Did you know? According to the World Wildlife Fund, there has been a “5000% increase in rhino poaching between 2007 and 2012, 514 this year alone.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says “Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar business involving the unlawful harvest of and trade in live animals and plants or parts and products derived from them. Wildlife is traded as skins, leather goods or souvenirs; as food or traditional medicine; as pets, and in many other forms. Illegal wildlife trade runs the gamut from illegal logging of protected forests to supply the demand for exotic woods, to the illegal fishing of endangered marine life for food, and the poaching of elephants to supply the demand for ivory.”
Are there laws protecting these animals?
“The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has brought together 175 nations to combat the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade through a uniform regulatory regime and increased coordination on a global scale. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (Service) Division of Management Authority and Division of Scientific Authority, as well as the Office of Law Enforcement, are primarily responsible for implementing and enforcing CITES in the United States.
Recently, CITES founded the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), a collaborative effort between the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO). ICCWC was formed to increase prosecution and punishment for caught smugglers and poachers as well as increase law enforcement in developing nations. Visit the CITES website to learn more about ICCWC.”
The organization TRAFFIC seeks to answer the “Why” of wildlife trafficking, providing a list of the “many reasons why wildlife is traded, including:
- food—fruits, mushrooms, nuts, leaves and tubers, are particular important resources in sustaining livelihoods in many rural areas. Wild animals (including fish) contribute at least a fifth of the animal protein in rural diets in more than 60 countries. A TRAFFIC study demonstrated reliance on wild meat is growing in Eastern and Southern Africa in response to increased human populations and poverty.
- fuel—trees and plants are an important source of fuel for cooking and heating, especially in rural areas
- fodder—considered very important non-wood forest products in arid regions of Asia and Africa
- building materials—for example, timber for furniture and housing to ingredients in manufacturing processes, such as gums and resins
- clothing and ornaments—leather, furs, feathers etc
- sport—from falconry to trophy hunting
- healthcare—everything from herbal remedies, traditional medicines to ingredients for industrial pharmaceuticals. An estimated 80 % of the world’s population are said to rely for primary health care on traditional medicines
- religion—many animals and plants or derivatives are used for religious purposes);
- collections—many wildlife specimens and curios are collected by museums and private individuals”
Wildlife trafficking is something we can all take a stance against. The World Wildlife Fund “Stop Wildlife Crime” site lists these actions:
- Push governments to protect threatened animal populations by increasing law enforcement, imposing strict deterrents, reducing demand for endangered species products and honoring international commitments made under CITES.
- Speak up on behalf of those on the frontlines being threatened by armed poachers so they are properly equipped, trained and compensated.
- Reduce demand for illegal wildlife parts and products by encouraging others to ask questions and get the facts before buying any wildlife or plant product.
Will you take action to protect these animals?