The development of green criminology is the background for nonspeciesist criminology, which is a field through which the harms of legal and illegal wildlife trade can be conceptualized. While humans to varying degrees are ascribed status as victims of crimes and harms, to a far less degree is this the case for animals and the natural world. A hierarchy is present in terms of who legitimately has the right to claim victimhood, who is ascribed victimhood, and for whom this is not accepted. Those who suffer most from abuse and exploitation may be the last to be regarded as victims, and this is consistent with them being powerless. This is the case for the animals who are victims of wildlife trade.
In the field of green criminology, a critical victimology that includes animals is employed, which sees behind power structures, such as those reliant on anthropocentrism and speciesism. A critical victimology takes into consideration perspectives such as a being’s sentience and intrinsic value, relying on concepts like eco justice, species justice, and environmental justice. Within this framework, rather than regarding nonhuman animals as property, it is accepted that they suffer from human destruction of habitat, from being forced into industrialized meat production complexes and abattoirs, and wildlife trade.
Different forms of wildlife trade are expanding, whether the animals are taken for the bushmeat trade, for experimental and medical use, for trophies, or as pets.
While humans and nonhuman animals are similar in their ability to experience joy, social bonding and suffering, and have an interest in living unharmed, their species affiliation determines what legislation comes into play, if any. Responses to wildlife trade are largely anthropocentric, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and too weak.