Illegal wildlife trade: A devastating challenge across the planet

Illegal wildlife trade has turned into a serious concern around the globe. The trafficking of live wildlife as pets in addition to different wildlife body parts and organs such as fur, hair, skin, pelt, scale, skull, teeth, bones, limbs, feathers, talons, claws, horn, ivory, skeletons, bone dust, reproductive organs, wildlife meat, eyes, gall bladders, pancreas, bile, urine, faeces, vomit, blood, animal trophies are being ruthlessly exploited from our natural ecosystems and environment for multi-million dollar under ground wildlife markets.

A devastating challenge across the planet

Some of the largest illegal wildlife trade markets are operating in some countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Within Asia, parts of South East Asia, Hong Kong and China are some of the largest global trade centres of illegal wildlife as pets as well as in commercial exploitation in the form of trade and commerce using different wildlife body parts and organs.

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It is important to note that many of these underground illegal, wildlife black markets are operating in open view of the respective national governments. There are huge secret investments and profit-sharing in such endeavor and as such they also have strong social, economic and political support under the table.

Without active government and political support, it is impossible that such markets are operating regularly throughout the year with enormous end profits endangering local and regional biodiversity as well resulting in rapid destruction of major and minor forest resources.

I white diversity of species is being impacted including invertebrates (Arthropoda, Mollusks, Echinoderms and Coelenterates) and vertebrates (fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals) alike. Several rare beetles, moths, butterflies, worms, crustaceans, snails, slugs, squids, octopus etc with either with food, pharmaceutical, traditional medicinal as well as ornamental values are being harvested in unprecedented large numbers from their sensitive habitats in high numbers impacting regeneration.

Nature of damage to the ecosystem and biodiversity

No species is therefore secure whether edible or ornamental fishes, reptiles and amphibians. If they do not have any related industrial, pharmaceutical or medicinal use or known good value is being exploited to be used as pets. The target species when collected in large numbers also include by catches; that are being wasted or destroyed indiscriminately pushing numerous species towards extinction.

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The unimaginable high demand for live wildlife such as colorful talking birds, small primates, wild ornamental fishes, amphibians and reptiles as well as rare flowering plants like orchids, bromeliads etc are all being out for sale.

Huge numbers of young, juvenile and aged specimens die during their inter-continental transportation with little regard for the comfort of these helpless and defenseless innocent animals. Malnutrition, communicable diseases and serious injuries have been reported from several batches of such animals recovered by government and non government agencies at the international border, ports, railway stations, airports and freeway transit points. Several of these species recovered succumb to the stress, diseases and injuries even when they are recovered to be released into their natural habitats. The loss is monumental and extremely alarming.

Challenging consequences

Not only resident birds but even migratory birds passing over different countries are now being harvested and over exploited by both professional and amateur hunters, poachers, bird traders and trappers. Several species of river and marine dolphins, whales, sharks and fishes are being regularly exploited over turning bans and legal restrictions for food and industrial purposes.

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Ruthless commercial exploitation of flora and fauna around the globe has transformed into a lucrative industry that provide employments to millions and cater to unaccountably large number of irresponsible customers of live wildlife, animal trophies, wildlife body parts and organs.

Sadly many of the customers who like collecting such exotic species as pets do not have any necessary education, awareness, training or experience in handling or managing such species at all. The resultant consequences being rapid or painful deaths of many of these wildlife pets due to abject negligence, ignorance, carelessness, callousness and lack of training.

The global loss on the wildlife due to the pet industry has been huge and devastating. Unless serious measures are taken to stop these animals from being shipped overseas and people consciously rejecting the trade and commerce on vulnerable wildlife species and completely boycotting them; very little can be expected to change in the distant future. 

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