The illegal wildlife trade is a lucrative international crime at over $19 billion per year.
The illegal wildlife trade includes elephants, rhinos, apes, tigers, and many more species. They are sold for all sorts of reasons, including pets, parts or meat. The Dodo, which did an extensive report on the matter, said that the illegal animal trade is the number four most lucrative international crime, behind narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.
Unfortunately, the risk of the crime is very low and it has very high profit rate. A rhino's horns can be worth more than narcotics or gold. Very few convictions are made despite arrests. And even then, it is usually an average person who has become desperate who gets caught instead of organized criminals.
Boys and girls are kidnapped and forced into poaching participation, amongst other horrible things. Families are affected, and lives are ruined.
Poaching is Only a Symptom
The illegal wildlife trade is often used to fund drug dealing, human trafficking, and counterfeiting. It is also been proven that it's used to fund terrorist organizations and militia groups.
Wildlife conservationists and law enforcers are threatened by organized crime. In the last decade, over 1,000 park rangers have been killed by these criminals.
The solutions to these issues are as complex as they are needed, but is nothing is done, more will be lost than an animal species.