Environmental crimes can be defined as illegal actions with negative, harming impact on the
Environment. They include: poaching and illegal trade in wildlife, smuggling and use of ozone depleting substances (ODS) which cause environmental pollution, illicit trade in and disposal of hazardous waste, illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and illegal logging and the associated trade in stolen timber. Environmental crimes by their very nature are trans-boundary and involve cross-border criminal syndicates. It is vastly expanding and increasingly endangering wildlife populations, the entire ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods and affecting revenue streams to Governments.
Criminal networks and organized criminal groups are becoming increasingly interested in such illicit transnational activities. This phenomena fuels corruption, money-laundering and undermines the rule of law. The enforcement of environmental laws and regulations is an important ingredient in protecting the environment and reducing environmental harm.
The Southern African region is greatly affected by crime on wildlife fauna and flora. The rhino and elephant populations have been dramatically reduced and the marine system is exploited through illegal fishing. The poaching of Rhino and Elephant and the illegal logging has escalated in recent years and is being driven by the demand posed by the Asian market.