The illegal wildlife trade is a multi billion-dollar enterprise that involves the unlawful hunting or harvesting and subsequent trading of live animals and plants. Illegal wildlife trade includes illegal logging of protected forest, illegal poaching and illegal killing of protected animals. Illegal wildlife and animal parts are trafficked in much the same manner as illegal drugs and arms around the world. Wildlife trafficking is the second biggest direct threat to wild species after habitat destruction. Because of the high wildlife trafficking that goes unnoticed, it is impossible to obtain the real value of illegal wildlife trade. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, 100 million tons of fish, 440,000 tons of medicinal plants, and 1.5 million tons of live birds are illegally trafficked and traded every year globally. Some of the wildlife plants and animal species that are at high risk of trafficking are looked at below.
Species Of Plants And Animals Are Most Affected
Corruption and poverty in Madagascar have had a direct effect on encouraging the logging and illegal trafficking of rosewood. The high international demand for expensive timber such as rosewood has also promoted the selective logging in the country. One log of rosewood fetches approximately $65. China is one of the countries where rosewood is highly trafficked and it is because of the high demand for hongmu furniture and wood carvings among the middle class.Other countries where rosewood is illegally trafficked include Southeast Asia, Nigeria, and Ghana. Illegal rosewood trafficking accounts for 35% of the share of type of total wildlife seizure between 2005 and 2014
Elephants are quickly facing extinction because of the rampant illegal poaching of them going on around the world today. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed elephants among the endangered wildlife facing extinction. Elephant tusks are in high demand since they are popularly used as trophies and making ornaments. Elephant tusk carvings for home decoration and gift fetch a lot of money. The high prices of elephant tusks have led to an increased poaching and trafficking of elephants, especially in Africa. 18% of the wildlife seized between 2005 and 2014 were elephant parts.
Assorted species of reptiles, such as lizards, crocodiles, alligators, snakes, and other semi-aquatic reptiles, are mainly trafficked for their meat and skins. Asia provides the biggest market for these assorted reptiles. Other reptiles, including snakes and crocodiles, are used as pets in some homes. Reptile skins are used to make wares and decorations. The fair prices and the high demand have led to illegal poaching and trafficking of these Assorted Reptiles, especially through Morocco. Assorted reptiles account for 9% of the total share of wildlife seized between 2005 and 2014.
Dire Consequences for Trafficked Species
Other wildlife that are illegally trafficked include agar wood for the making of perfumes and incense, the pangolin for its meat, scales, and skin, the rhinoceros for trophy and meat. and marine turtles which are also used as pets and for their meat. Illegal trafficking and demand for this wildlife have led to an increase in illegal harvesting and poaching. These species are endangered since their population has been significantly reduced. Black rhinoceros have been declared extinct by the IUCN while other species such as pangolins, agarwood, and rosewood have been listed by the IUCN as endangered species facing extinction. If wildlife protection laws are not enforced, then these wildlife species are likely to become extinct sooner than what was previously expected.
What are the World's Most Trafficked Species?
The most trafficked animal and plant species in the world include rosewood, elephants, assorted reptiles and agarwood.
Illicit Trafficking Of Wildlife: Which Species Of Plants And Animals Are Most Affected?
|Rank||Animal/Plant||Share of type of wildlife among total seizures (2005-2014)|
|11||Tortoise and Freshwater Turtles||2|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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