The illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion dollar market that targets wild cats for their furs, teeth, bones and other parts. While traffickers initially targeted (and devastated) tigers, they now have other cat species in their crosshairs, especially jaguars and lions, as a replacement for tigers. Poachers also target leopards, cheetahs and servals for their furs. Increasingly, cheetahs and many small cat species are being captured for the illegal pet trade. Panthera is a proud part of a growing movement to end this catastrophic illegal market.
The illegal wildlife trade thrives in darkness, which is why Panthera has formed a Big Cat Intelligence Network, supported by the United States Department of State, to collect data and intelligence on wild cat trafficking in six global hotspots. With this data, we assist law enforcement bodies across the world to plug knowledge and capacity gaps and disrupt the illegal wildlife trade at its transportation and market stages. This includes:
- Holding workshops with judiciary members in Southeast Asia to promote stronger sentencing and punishment for poachers and traffickers. These workshops have led to record fines and penalties for traffickers;
- Training rangers to detect wildlife smuggling and wildlife-detection dogs at key checkpoints in snow leopard range in Central Asia;
- Teaching customs and airport employees to identify trafficked species in South America;
- Producing public service announcements about the illegality of buying or selling wildlife parts; and
- Reducing demand for wild cat furs in Southern Africa by producing over 18,000 high-quality synthetic furs through our Furs for Life and Saving Spots programs.