© Jamie Cotten / IFAW / WWF-US


Wildlife trafficking is the world’s fourth largest illegal trade after drugs, human trafficking and counterfeiting. It is valued up to US$26 billion per year. 

Asia is an epicenter for wildlife trafficking. To feed this trade, animals and plants are harvested or caught indiscriminately regardless of their status.

Mythical medicinal qualities and high market value continue to drive the demand for illegal wildlife products. 


Countries in Southeast Asia are implicated in three ways –  

Poaching hotspots:
Southeast Asia is home to many iconic species. It is also a poaching hotspot. Animals are killed and trafficked in all forms: baby orangutans are captured to be sold as pets, tiger parts are used in medicine and turtle shells are used for ornaments.

Transit points:
The strong connectivity in this region is abused by illegal networks as transit points to avoid detection. In a year, tens of thousands of animals are seized from the illegal wildlife trade. 

Consumer markets:
Asia’s most notorious ground for illegal wildlife trade lies within the border areas connecting Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Also known as the Golden Triangle, the region is infamous for being a source and end destination for illegal wildlife products, including endangered species. 

© Edward Parker / WWF


Singapore has been identified as a major transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade. The country’s strong connectivity makes it an attractive route for syndicates to move products through its shores.

As the illegal wildlife trade is globally connected, any measures on Singapore’s part to address our role as a transit hub will have a significant impact on international progress. 

Click on the following videos to find out more on the illegal wildlife trade.

Tracking the trade Episode 5: In the Urban Jungle

Can an urban city like Singapore be an illegal wildlife market? This episode, we set out on a mission to uncover illegal wildlife trade in the city, and in the process, find out unexpected facts about a thriving ivory trade.

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Episode 1: Illegal Wildlife Trade in Southeast Asia

Find out the depth of involvement by Southeast Asian countries in fuelling the illegal wildlife trade.

With billions of dollars at play and international criminal syndicates involved, the global illegal wildlife trade market is not as distant as we imagine. The epicentre of this global trade lies right here, in Southeast Asia. Find out the depth of involvement by Southeast Asian countries in fuelling the illegal wildlife trade.

Episode 2: Zero Poaching: Mission Possible

What does it take to achieve ZERO poaching? One country has done it – for the fifth year in history.

The heavy price of illegal wildlife trade: over 2 million animals and their parts are seized in Southeast Asia in a year. What does it take to achieve ZERO poaching? One country has done it – for the fifth year in history.

Episode 3: The Unsung Heroes

When Myanmar’s elephants were on the brink of extinction, the anti-poaching rangers stepped in. From technology to face-offs with armed poachers, find out the challenges and dangers faced by the rangers around the world that keep wildlife safe.

Episode 4: The Golden Triangle

The world’s deadliest supermarket is right here, in Southeast Asia. From tigers to bears and elephant, every wildlife part is for sale. Join us as we head to Ground Zero and discover the sinister realities of the illegal wildlife trade.


Everyone has a role to stop the illegal wildlife trade. Here’s how you can contribute:

  • Do not buy souvenirs that are made of endangered animal parts.
  • Avoid traditional medicines, food or items that are made of endangered and protected animals.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.
  • Always check the source of an item before making a purchase.

Contact the relevant authorities to report any illegal wildlife trade that is happening in your area. Call the following numbers to make a report:

ACRES Wildlife Crime: +65 9783 7782 (24 hours) 

Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority: +65 6805 2992 / 1800 476 1600 (24 hours) 

Southeast Asia is home to some of the most notorious illegal wildlife trade activities. Spanning across popular tourist destinations like Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, the selling and retailing of wildlife products have to stop now.

WWF’s recommendations for stronger wildlife protection in the region:

  • Establishing clear and strong legislation with sentences that match the crisis and that will trigger money laundering investigations. A maximum sentence of 10 year for CITES I species and 7 years for CITES II species would be a strong deterrent for traffickers and help all species in decline.
  • Providing adequate funding, resources and capacity building to gather intelligence and stop transshipments by increasing the law enforcement ratio.
  • Convening the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for united action, encouraging the exchange of intelligence and joint operations with countries in the region to systematically end illegal trade.

Singapore is not only a major transshipment port for illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia and around the region, it still imports and consumes certain wildlife in the form of pet trades, TCM products and the like.

In Singapore, I am standing against illegal wildlife trade by:

  • Supporting stronger legislation in Singapore to address role in transshipment
  • Supporting a full domestic ban on ivory
  • Reporting illegal wildlife activities to authorities at wwf.sg/vr