Counter Wildlife Trafficking (CWT)

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) can be defined as “supplying, purchasing, selling or transport of wildlife and wildlife parts and products in contravention of national and international laws or treaties”.1 It is an ‘expanding’ crisis threatening global biodiversity, causing species extinctions and extirpations, landscape and ecosystem destruction, disrupting livelihoods and costing millions in lost revenue for local economies. This global trade has been estimated to be worth between US$7-$23 billion, excluding illegal fishing and logging which are valued at US$30- $100 billion and US$23.5 billion respectively. IWT stands as the fourth most lucrative global criminal activity after drug, human and arms trafficking.

To date, IWT has received very little attention in Belize. However, studies and anecdotal information indicate that the trade Belize is aligning with the global trend, it is expanding. Illegal trade threatens wildlife in our rivers, forests and sea, affects Belizean livelihoods and economy, and undermines the rule of law. There has been limited investigation into the ecological impacts and the extent of IWT in Belize; however, to date, there has been no attempt to quantify its economic value. In this Policy Brief, we attempt this estimate whilst recognizing the many limitations to the accuracy of such an estimate due to missing or incomplete data.

Belize has signed on to the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). CITES ensures the trade of species is not detrimental to the species population and so regulates trade. Countries signed on to the convention are committed to implement the convention, however, it does not take the place of the countries law. Each party must adopt its own legislation and domestic measures to ensure the implementation of CITES at the national level. In 2023 the Government of Belize enacted the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Act, 2023. The legislation details the designation, establishment, composition and functions of the Management Authority and the Scientific Authority; trade in endangered CITES listed species and exemptions; terms and conditions of trade permit or certificate. For the complete Act and details please follow link

The enactment of this legislation is one measure to control international trade of flora and fauna in Belize, additional efforts are necessary to combat domestic illegal wildlife trade, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) continues to work with both Fisheries and Forestry Department in developing strategies, capacity building and innovative technology to combat wildlife trade, follow our social media for updates on our CWT work.  

Read Full report here.