During a state visit to Tanzania on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order in a bid to further combat illegal wildlife trafficking. The executive order includes the creation of a presidential task force on wildlife trafficking and $10 million of support in Africa where much of the trafficking takes place.

In a written version of the executive order, Obama said that wildlife trafficking is an ever-escalating international crisis.

"Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates. The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations," Obama wrote.

The illegal trade of animals or animal parts has seen all-time financial highs in recent years. The illicit industry is believed to generate as much as $10 billion a year, placing it among the ranks of human trafficking, the drug trade, counterfeiting and the illegal arms trade, according to a Washington Post report.

Largely fueled by demand in Asia, the numbers of poached animals in Africa has seen a meteoric rise. The number of rhinos killed in South Africa this year is on track to reach an all-time high, and in 2012, roughly 30,000 African elephants were killed illegally across the continent.

The number of rhinos killed in South Africa in the first quarter of 2013 appears to exceed the death tolls for all of 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined, according to the website Annamiticus. At the current pace of 2.1 dead rhinos per day, 767 rhinos will die at the hand of poachers by the end of the year.

In May, 26 African elephants were slaughtered at Dzanga Bai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by an armed group impersonating members of the Central African Republic's transitional government force.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently made a call for a strengthening of anti-poaching laws and greater criminal justice in Central Africa.

"Poaching and its potential linkages to other criminal, even terrorist, activities constitute a grave menace to sustainable peace and security in Central Africa," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a report presented to the UN Security Council, the highest international security body.

Ki-moon said increasing links between elephant poaching, the spread of weapons and regional instability are all interrelated.

"Illegal ivory trade may currently constitute an important source of funding for armed groups," the report stated. "Also of concern is that poachers are using more and more sophisticated and powerful weapons, some of which, it is believed, might be originating from the fallout in Libya."

Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the U.S. arm of the World Wildlife Fund, praised Obama's call for greater protection of animals.

"The planet's most majestic species are being massacred for nothing nobler than vacation trinkets, hangover remedies and false promises of miracle cancer cures," Roberts said, according to a WWF report.

"These syndicates are robbing Africa of its wealth. President Obama's commitment to help stop the global crime wave that is emptying the continent's forests and savannas is welcome news."

Carter called Obama's executive order a critical boost for everyone involved in fighting wildlife trafficking.

"The future of our wild world rests in our hands," he said. "And now we must move with all due speed to make sure elephants, rhinos and other extraordinary creatures don't disappear forever."


Poachers Kill 26 African Elephants At World Heritage Site

U.N. Report Links Elephant Poaching to Terrorism, Weapons Proliferation

Rhino Poaching In South Africa Kills 232 In First Quarter 2013, On Pace For Record High