Ilegal 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.
Full report here.