World Environment Day (WED) is observed annually on 5 June to raise awareness of issues such as marine pollution, global warming and wildlife crime. The day aims to encourage people to protect nature and our planet. This year's theme – Go Wild for Life – focuses on the illegal trade in wildlife.

Poaching, smuggling and the booming illegal trade in wildlife products are eroding Earth's precious biodiversity, driving entire species to the brink of extinction. Between 2010 and 2014, an estimated 100,000 African elephants were killed, out of a total population of under half a million. In 2011, a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam, and the last western black rhinos vanished from Cameroon. Great apes have disappeared from Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, and other countries could quickly follow. The most commonly trafficked mammal in the world is thought to be the pangolin – more than a million are taken from the wild every year, destined for dinner tables and for use in Chinese medicine.

Efforts to counter the illicit trade – including stronger policies, awareness campaigns and investments in community conservation and law enforcement – have scored some great successes. However, many species remain at risk and it will take a dedicated and sustained effort by each and every one of us to turn the tide. More awareness and action pushes governments and international bodies to introduce and enforce tougher laws and combat those still willing to break them.

IBTimes UK presents 30 photos that show the sometimes horrifying effects of the illicit trade in wildlife.

To find out what you can to to help crack down on animal smuggling, go to the World Environment Day 2016 website.