Authorities have rescued dozens of monkeys from a smuggler’s car in Cambodia.

In total, 43 wild monkeys were found tied up in sacks in the back of the car.  Officials have said that the animals were being smuggled across the Cambodian border to be sold in Vietnam, which, sadly, is a common practice these days. Vietnam has emerged as a hub for wildlife trafficking, with monkeys and other exotic animals commanding high prices on the black market. Luckily, these animals are safe — but the smuggler fled on foot, and has not been found. The monkeys were most likely going to be sold as exotic pets or for meat.

Officers stand in front of smuggler’s vehicle 

13100833_1606226409704938_5405690900992693252_n

Unfortunately, cases like this happen far too often. The lack of law enforcement in most countries (there are fewer than 400 wildlife officers in the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service) make it difficult to regulate. The wildlife black market is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion — a single animal can sell for up to $50,000 —  making exotic wildlife trafficking especially appealing. In addition, the sentencing for these crimes are not nearly as harsh as what other criminals receive, such as narcotics dealers.  For some of these crimes, a person may only spend a night in jail.

The bigger issue with wildlife smuggling is the effect on the masses and the planet. “The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains,” according to the World Wildlife Fund.

If smugglers can continue this practice for profit without harsh consequences, then our precious animals may be facing a grim future.