Illegal Wildlife Trade

Worldwide Problem

Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) is an activity that does not solely happen in Belize, in fact, it is a problem that persists world-wide. In Belize, this problem is present from villages to the cities. IWT is defined as wildlife, and all living parts of wildlife that are captured, supplied, sold/traded, bought and kept against the law.


Locally, all of Belize’s wildlife is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA). Apart from protecting wildlife, this act also stipulates activities that can be undertaken by legal citizens of Belize, such as hunting. In order for one to hunt, they must possess a Hunting Permit from the Forest Department (FD) of Belize. In addition to the Hunting Permit, all hunters must hunt with a licensed firearm. Under this act “hunting” is classified as molesting, capturing or killing any wildlife. While hunting, the use of fire, traps and explosives are prohibited and hunting can only occur outside of Protected Areas or private reserves (areas). There is also a list of game species, with each species having its own open/closed season throughout the calendar year (see Wildlife and the Law Pocket Guide). The WPA also protects all wildlife from being kept as pets; and in the case of parrots, can only be kept with a valid pet permit from FD.



Internationally, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) is the delegating body that monitors the trade of species across international borders. Under CITES, there are 3 Appendices under which species can fall under. Any species dead or alive, whole or parts listed under the CITES appendices need a permit for trading. Appendix I includes all species threatened with extinction and has the greatest level of protection, including restrictions on trade. Appendix II includes all endangered species and similar species that resemble the endangered and trade of these species is controlled. Appendix III includes any species that is protected within at least one (1) signatory country and trade of these species is controlled or prohibited.



The International Union for the Conservation of Nature

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an environmental network that creates frameworks for conservation actions that ensure human progress, development and nature conservation. Signatories of the IUCN include countries, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and indigenous people’s organizations around the world. The IUCN has developed the IUCN Redlist which is a database that uses quantitative data of species to evaluate their risk of extinction as a guide to the status of biodiversity. The Redlist categorizes each evaluated species in eight (8) categories. These categories are Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least Concern (LC) and Data Deficient (DD).  




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