This is an interesting and informative report published recently by the UNDCO. Chapter 7 (page 75) analyses the illegal wildlife trade in East Asia and the Pacific throughout different sections.
It first presents a general overview of the different “uses” given to wildlife products such as food, ingredients for pharmaceutical products, building materials, clothing, cultural items and luxury products. After the introduction, it continues with a short analysis about the nature of the market of various major endangered species.
Particularly interesting is the overview about how the illegal trade is conducted: “…best understood as a collection of generally different trade chains, with its own smuggling methods”, who are the identified traders depending on the species traded (mainly Chinese for ivory products for instance, or Vietnamese and Thai for rhino horn), and their estimated size of this business in the region: US$ 2.5 billion a year.
Quite surprisingly, it seems that wildlife crime investigations have been done regardless of the associated monetary flow, which might be the key to many illegal transactions and a big deterrent weapon against this type of activities if this path was to be pursued. Contrary to the conclusions of this report, following the money and attaching the incredible profits that traffickers made, seems to me one of the key issues to tackle in the future...happy to discuss with whom might be interested by this subject!!