Wild Crimes

By The Natural History Museum, London

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Wildlife crime is one of the biggest illegal businesses in the world. Join us on a global tour as we uncover its dark underbelly. In this Natural History Museum podcast, discover some of the most shocking, sensational and sinister crimes committed against the natural world, and hear from the people working to end them.

Episode Date
What's the solution to wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime affects us all. Illegal trade happens in every corner of the planet, and its effects can be catastrophic for some animals and plants. But the tragedy goes beyond the loss of single species. It's clear our relationship with nature needs to change.

What can we do about wildlife crime? In this episode of Wild Crimes, we look to the future. What impact is wildlife crime having on nature? Should blanket bans be imposed on traders? And what can you do to help?
Join Simangele Msweli, Senior Manager of the Youth Leadership Program at the African Wildlife Foundation; John E Scanlon, Former Secretary-General of CITES and Chair of the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime; and Jorge Rios, Chief of the Wildlife & Forest Crime Programme at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Learn more about what you can do to protect nature at nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes.

Aug 26, 2021
Rhino botflies: hidden victims of poaching

In the aftermath of wildlife crime, victims can pile up quickly. In this episode of Wild Crimes, we examine the fallout of southern white rhino poaching.

One of the victims is clear - the white rhino - but others can go unremarked on. However, dung beetles and tiny rhino botflies are suffering too. Rhinos are considered a keystone species, because their existence helps sculpt and shape landscapes and ecosystems.

When they are killed by poachers, all sorts of knock-on effects are triggered. Why is the protection of creatures like the rhino so important? How does the loss of keystone species affect an ecosystem, and why are we humans often overlooking the repercussions?

Join the discussion with Rebecca Drury, Head of Wildlife Trade for Flora and Fauna International and the Natural History Museum’s Dr Erica McAlister and Max Barclay.

To learn more about the hidden victims of wildlife crime and support the Natural History Museum’s work, visit nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes

Aug 19, 2021
Primates: eaten into extinction?

Bushmeat, meat from wild animals, is an important source of protein for communities across the world.

But in some parts of the globe it has become an illegal or luxury item - and that's posing a problem, threatening ecosystems and human health simultaneously.

Five million tonnes of wild meat is extracted annually from the Congo basin, including critically endangered primates. Demand for meat from this part of the world is becoming unsustainable, with protected species often caught between hunters and their prey.

In this episode of Wild Crimes, join us for a in-depth discussion on how our food systems affect human health. With thanks to Prof Ben Garrod, the Museum's Dr Natalie Cooper, Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) in Uganda and researcher Sandrella Morrison-Lanjouw.

Aug 12, 2021
Raptors: when birds of prey are persecuted

The UK's birds of prey regularly fall victim to criminal behaviour, with dozens found poisoned, trapped and shot every single year.

There are 15 raptor species native to the UK, with varying conservation statuses. Some of them are severely threatened, so every lost bird becomes a threat to the survival of the species. That means raptor persecution is a big problem.

Killing protected birds is a crime, but it goes on across the entirety of the UK. In this episode of Wild Crimes, we're finding out why are people risking jail time to kill raptors. How can we protect our birds of prey? And why is this issue so divisive?

Find out with Museum curator Dr Joanne Cooper, RSPB Investigations Liaison Officer Jenny Shelton, Dr Roger Draycott of the GWCT, landowner Dee Ward, author Alan Stewart, and criminology graduate Ellen Burnside.

Aug 05, 2021
Dinosaurs: stealing the most expensive fossils in the world

In 2020, the most expensive dinosaur fossil ever sold was acquired by a private investor for £24.7m. Anybody with money can now get their hands on a T.rex or Stegosaurus - and when big fossils come with million dollar price tags, breaking the law can be lucrative busineess.

In this episode of Wild Crimes, find out why the commercial trade in dinosaur fossils is such a big issue for science.

Join Museum palaeontologists Dr Susie Maidment and Professor Paul Barrett, Professor John Long of Flinders University in South Australia and Dr Bolortsetseg Minjin at the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs.

Learn more about dinosaurs and support the Natural History Museum's work at nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes.

Jul 29, 2021
Orchids: blooming on the black market

Billions of orchids are bought and sold around the world every year. Most of this trade is legal and made up of artificially grown flowers. However, alongside the regulated trade, thousands of orchids are illegally harvested from the wild - and it's causing big problems for some of the most coveted species.

In this episode of Wild Crimes, we'll find out why no other plant has captured our imagination quite like orchids, and learn about how we can better protect them.

Discover more with the Museum's Dr Sandy Knapp, Dr Jacob Phelps of Lancaster University, Dr David Roberts of the University of Kent, Dr Amy Hinsley at the University of Oxford, botanist Dr Tatiana Arias and collector Juan Felipe Posada.

Learn more about the illegal wildlife trade and support the Natural History Museum's work at nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes.

Jul 22, 2021
A mammoth task: halting the ivory trade

Elephants are the poster child for the illegal wildlife trade. It is estimated that on average, 55 African elephants per day are killed for their ivory tusks.

Humans have coveted ivory for thousands of years, and demand eventually pushed elephants to the brink. International trade in their tusks is now banned, but a new product on the global market could be fuelling the flames for elephants: mammoth tusks.

In this episode of Wild Crimes, we'll find out how the trade in the tusks of extinct mammoths is influencing demand for elephant ivory. Are mammoths providing their living relatives with a lifeline, or are their tusks doing more harm than good?

Discover more with Museum Research Leader Prof Adrian Lister, Valery Plotnikov from the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia, trade investigator Lucy Vigne and ivory trade research specialist Linda Chou.

Learn more about mammoths, elephants and the illegal wildlife crime and support the Natural History Museum’s work at nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes.

Jul 15, 2021
Europe's biggest wildlife crime: eel smuggling

Europe is at the centre of an illegal wildlife trade operation worth billions of pounds.

Gangs are thought to be smuggling up to 350 million live eels from Europe and shipping them to Asia every single year. Once at their destination, the young eels are farmed to full size and redistributed across the world. But why is the European eel such a valuable commodity? Why has the trade of glass eels been made illegal? And what effect is this having on the species?

Dive in with ZSL’s Dr Matthew Gollock, eel researcher Kenzo Kaifu, wildlife trade analyst Hiromi Shrirashi, counter-trafficking advisor Grant Miller and the Sustainable Eel Group’s Florian Stein.

To support the Natural History Museum’s work, visit nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes

Jul 08, 2021
Chameleons: from jungle to pet shop

The global trade in exotic pets sees wild animals illegally caught and distributed around the world. Animals are often forced to trade in their homes in tropical jungles for cramped living quarters in towns and cities.

In this episode of Wild Crimes we explore reptile smuggling in Tanzania, a country with a diverse range of magnificent animals, endemic to only tiny pockets of rainforest. Tanzania has had a blanket ban on all wildlife exports since 2016, but yet a range of reptiles - chameleons, snakes and geckos - have still found their way out of the country smuggled in luggage, wrapped up in socks or shoved inside plastic containers. They are destined for private collections, thousands of miles away from home.

But why are reptiles traders turning to the black market, what pressure is this putting on chameleon species, and is there anything we can do about it? Join us as we chat to co-director of PAMS Michele Menegon, Tanzanian reptile researcher John Lyrukura, YouTuber and chameleon owner Megan Margot and the Natural History Museum’s Dr. Simon Loader.

To learn more about the illegal trade of reptiles and to support the Natural History Museum’s work, visit nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes

Jul 01, 2021
Pangolins: the world's most trafficked mammal

Pangolins are solitary, elusive and shy creatures native to Africa and Asia - there is nothing else like them on Earth. However, they're facing extinction because their keratin scales are traded by the tonne in many countries.

In this episode of Wild Crimes we're uncovering the pangolin trade. Why is a single pangolin worth risking your life for? How have they become the world's most trafficked mammal? And will they disappear within our lifetimes? Join us to find out.

Pangolins have existing for more than 50 million years, but they could disappear within our lifetimes.

Enlisting experts around the world, we'll meet people who are risking their lives to protect nature.

Discover more with Museum Reseacher Dr Natalie Cooper, Professor Ray Jansen from Tshwane University of Technology, Cambridge University PhD candidate Charles Emogor and Dr Karin Lourens of Johannesbury Wildlife Veterinary Hospital.

To learn more about the pangolin trade and to support the Natural History Museum’s work, visit nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes

Jul 01, 2021
Wild Crimes trailer

Introducing Wild Crimes, a Natural History Museum podcast launching 1 July 2021.

Visit nhm.ac.uk/wildcrimes for more information.

Jun 15, 2021