The big, bad and evil illegal trading of wildlife

Being a wildlife photographer, I have been in the wild for many years now. The beauty of nature uplifted by these amazing and beautiful animals is hard to describe in words. Yet, some people want to destroy this breathtaking beauty. Yes, I am talking about illegal wildlife trade that’s growing with each passing day.

Image credits: Instagram/thelenstrail

In simple words, in illegal willdife trade, animals are caught from their habitats and then sold as food, pets, ornamental plants, leather, tourist curios, and medicine. While a great deal of this trade is legal and is not harming wild populations, a worryingly large proportion is illegal, hence threatening our precious animals.

In India, it includes mongoose hair; snake skins; Rhino horn; Tiger and Leopard claws, bones, skins, whiskers; Elephant tusks; deer antlers; shahtoosh shawl; turtle shells; musk pods; bear bile; medicinal plants; timber and caged birds such as parakeets, mynas, munias etc.

Wildlife crime is a big business that threatens a lot of species, causing extinction, hurting the environment, and causing diseases. Talking more specifically about the disease that’s being transmitted will not only impact humans, but it also impacts the social, economic and also threatens ecosystem. The outbreak SARS, Bird Flu, Heart water Disease, Avian Influenza and Monkey pox are some of the clearest examples of the infectious disease that’s been caused by animals.

Even legal trade has increased in the last three decades and has become highly unsustainable, according to a report. According to the report, the international legal wildlife trade has increased 500 per cent in value since 2005 and 2,000 per cent since the 1980s. On the other hand, the estimated value of the global illegal trade in wildlife is worth around $7-23 billion per year, equivalent to nearly 25 per cent of the value of the legal market.

More initiatives and awareness need to be created to protect and preserve wildlife. Climate change, pollution, and the loss of forested areas are already impacting the ecosystem. Poaching wildlife will not only end up killing animals and birds but also ruining biodiversity, leading to an unbalanced food chain and ultimately threatening all forms of life. 

Few tips which I would like to give:

  • Join a community or if that community doesn’t exist, create one where one can enlighten and support for the cause. 
  • Strict laws should be made so that people are aware of the do’s and don’ts in the wildlife sanctuaries/national parks/zoos.  
  • Prohibit products made from endangered animals or their parts, thus buying products responsibly 
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