Of all the wildlife crimes, the illegal trade of wildlife is the most devastating. For many years, people have taken advantage of Earth’s incredible flora and fauna for wealth, social status, and power. Illegal wildlife trafficking continues to generate billions of dollars as the demand for rare animal and plant products persist.
In this blog by Covenant Wildlife Removal, we discuss the severity of this ongoing crime and how it impacts the earth and humanity. Continue reading to learn more about the illegal trade of wildlife and discover how you can help stop this destructive, selfish, and catastrophic crime.
Learning About the Illegal Trade of Wildlife
The illegal trade of wildlife typically involves inhumanely removing animals or plants from their natural habitat and selling them or their parts for financial gain. The animals or plants may be sold for various uses, like as pets, food, medicine, decoration, or clothing.
This industry threatens many valued species and negatively impacts the overall balance of fragile ecosystems. To further understand this crime, we’ll answer four key questions:
- Where does it happen?
- What is the impact?
- What are the primary causes?
- What animals are involved?
1 | Where Does Illegal Wildlife Trade Happen?
Illegal wildlife trafficking is an issue prevalent all over the world. However, there are certain areas experts fittingly call “wildlife trade hotspots.” These locations include:
- The international borders of China
- Eastern and southern trade hubs in Africa
- Southeast Asia
- Eastern Border of Europe
- Some Mexican markets
- Parts of the Caribbean
- New Guinea
- The Solomon Islands
2 | What is the Impact of this Crime?
The list of consequences for the illegal trade of wildlife is quite literally endless. The entire planet pays for the actions of these greedy individuals participating in the crime. Below are some of the most significant impacts:
For many, local wildlife is a vital resource. The communities that rely on it are often poor and have little means to address the ongoing issue. Some families depend on local wild animals for nutrition and native plants for fuel and other necessities, such as medical treatments.
Those who participate in the illegal trade of wildlife are not only stealing from the earth, but they are robbing the people who need nature the most.
Disrupting the Balance of Nature
Nature works in specific ways to keep the planet balanced, healthy, and thriving. Illegal wildlife trafficking can alter entire environments, from the blades of grass sprouting from the soil to the herd of elephants who have ruled the land for many years. It is one of the main culprits in degrading our precious terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Introducing Invasive Species
This crime is also responsible for introducing harmful invasive species to certain environments. When an animal is taken from its natural habitat and released into a foreign one, it doesn’t always die out. Instead, it competes with the local species and often takes over because their natural predators are absent from the new area.
A perfect example is the Burmese python population in Florida’s Everglades. These invasive snakes were bought as pets and illegally released in the Everglades once they became too big for the owners to care for. It didn’t take long for these resilient pythons to reproduce and threaten the native species that have thrived there for many years.
Threatening Rare Wildlife
Perhaps the most concerning impact of the illegal wildlife trade is the decline of rare plant and animal populations. This crime causes the near extinction of some of the world’s most fascinating and beneficial creatures.
Even the animals not targeted are impacted by illegal trafficking. For instance, when traps are set for deer, other wildlife also fall victim to them and die resulting from their injuries. Similarly, when targeted creatures are removed from an area, the plants and animals that depend on their existence suffer, too.
3 | What Are the Primary Causes of the Illegal Trade of Wildlife?
To put an end to this horrendous crime, we must understand why it happens. The following information includes the top driving factors that make the illegal trade of wildlife possible and keep it thriving:
- High Demand for Rare Species- Products like rhino horns, ivory, and luxurious animal furs are things consumers continue to desire. Therefore, wildlife trafficking has a consistent group of buyers willing to pay enormous prices for these rare animal products. Without the demand, the industry would be non-existent.
- Low-Risk- One of the most frustrating contributors to the illegal trade of wildlife is the lack of enforced consequences for the crimes involved. The people who participate in wildlife trafficking see it as a low-risk crime with high rewards.
- Uneducated Supporters- Another cause of the growth of animal trafficking is the consumers who are unaware of what they are purchasing. For instance, tourists may buy souvenirs when traveling to a new country, unknowingly supporting this global crime. Similarly, some people may be aware of the illegal activity they participate in but need help understanding the drastic impact of the industry.
4 | What Animals are Involved in Illegal Wildlife Trading?
As the illegal trade of wildlife grows, there have been roughly 6,000 different species involved. Below are some of the flora and fauna heavily impacted by this devastating crime:
- Tigers- Tiger populations have steadily declined as the illegal trade of wildlife continues. As a result, tigers are endangered. Consumers still desire their fur, skin, and other parts.
- Tropical Timber- Trees are one of the most traded wildlife globally. And although some of this trade is legal, much of it is not. The loss of valuable tree species due to the demand for timber causes entire ecosystems to collapse because of their critical role.
- African Elephants- In the last 100 years, nearly 90% of the African elephant population has disappeared, heavily due to poaching. Their tusks and skin continue to be in high demand, even with the many efforts of officials to stop crime and slaughter.
- Pangolins- These gentle creatures are the most trafficked species worldwide. People sell them for their scales and other parts for consumption, as a symbol of wealth, or for medicinal uses.
- African Rhinos- These powerful animals are some of the most recognizable and iconic species. They are mainly targeted for their horns.
How Do We Stop Wildlife Trafficking?
The illegal trade of wildlife is a prevalent and catastrophic crime happening globally. It is changing the world as we know it, not in a good way. Animal trafficking is one of the only crimes that impact everyone on the planet, including humans, sea life, and terrestrial species.
While the officials are working to end this ongoing issue, it will take the participation of people all over the world to finally halt. But it’s certainly possible. Before it’s too late, the government and public must take the matter seriously and continue working towards stopping wildlife trafficking.
As an individual, there are many ways to help end illegal wildlife trading. Fight for the health of our planet and the survival of millions of species by taking action in the following ways:
- Make informed choices: When purchasing products of any kind, do your research to see if it was sustainably sourced, humanely treated, and legally obtained. The players in the illegal wildlife trade are sneaky with their methods, making the products seem harmless and legitimate.
- Support the Laws and Regulations: There are many regulations in place to help protect flora and fauna and fight against wildlife crime. As the people, it’s our job to help enforce the laws and support them.
- Talk to Local Government Officials: Be a voice for the voiceless by expressing concerns to your local government officials and pushing them to amend wildlife laws that aren’t working to stop the criminals.
- Spread the Word: One of the best ways to combat this awful crime is to educate those around you. The more people who know about the impacts and causes of illegal trafficking, the closer we will be to ending the thriving industry.
Covenant Wildlife Cares
The team at Covenant Wildlife Removal handles all kinds of species every day. We know just how precious each creature is to the fragile balance of nature, even in our local neighborhoods.
Join us as we spread the word about illegal wildlife trading and work to put an end to the crime. One of the best ways to contribute is to call the professionals when you need a wild animal removed from your property. That way, the animal is treated humanely and sustainably.
Call Covenant Wildlife Removal to learn more about our services and what we do to keep our world happy and healthy.