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GPS assists environmental crime in South Africa

Environmental crime units around South Africa are waging a war against an intelligent and often unseen enemy – plant, animal and insect thieves. South Africa’s great biodiversity is a magnet for unscrupulous collectors around the world who crave the exotic and unusual, and its national parks are seen as an obvious place to find concentrations of unusual flora and fauna.

It is estimated that the illegal trade in plants and animals is the third largest illegal activity in the world, only surpassed by the arms and drug trade. Recent arrests of foreign nationals involved in reptile smuggling have revealed that the smugglers have extensive maps, GPS co-ordinates of likely areas to find animals, specialized reference books on specific species and even itineraries of their theft schedule.