680238754

680238754

little baby monkey in a cage black market business of wildlife trafficking

Photo by: SPmemory

SPmemory

It Is Time to Stop Wildlife Trafficking

By: Robin Fearon

Wildlife trafficking is the world’s fourth largest illegal trade, after drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeiting, says the World Wildlife Fund.

March 03, 2021

Trade in illegal wildlife products is estimated at up to $26 billion each year and the pangolin sadly, has its own chapter in the latest United Nations Wildlife Crime Report. Political leaders, conservationists, and disease researchers have called for a strict prohibition on the sale of wild animals in so-called wet markets, dealing in bushmeat.

Key to Conservation: The Pangolin

1276370504

1276370504

Indian Pangolin or Anteater (Manis crassicaudata) one of the most traffic/smuggled wildlife species for its scales, meat etc for medical purposes.

Photo by: Vicky_Chauhan

Vicky_Chauhan

One of the most trafficked animals is the pangolin, with Asia at the epicenter for the trade in this ‘scaly anteater’. The region is a poaching hotspot, a transit point for smuggling networks, and has a vast consumer market where endangered species are both consumed and turned into medicinal products. Sales of pangolin products have made this precious animal a must-have item and placed it firmly on the endangered species list.

In essence, pangolins have almost become luxury goods, with 2.2 pounds (1kg) of scales selling for more than $400. “Scales are trafficked more like drugs than ivory,” says Steve Galster of Freeland, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to stop wildlife and human trafficking.

More than 29 US tons of pangolins and their scales were found by Malaysian authorities in a single seizure in February 2019, just days after 11 tons of scales were discovered in raids across Uganda, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

Scientists are unsure how many pangolins are left in the wild, so wildlife NGOs with the help of government agencies are trying to use what they know about the species to change attitudes and behavior.

One of the most fruitful approaches could be publicizing the widely known links between the wildlife trade and pandemic disease. Pangolins are known to carry coronavirus strains related to the human virus, and agencies say smuggled animals may be linked to the worldwide outbreak.

Studying the pangolin’s incredible response to viral disease might be another way to stop the senseless slaughter. Medical breakthroughs in treatment of COVID-19 and other viral infections could well happen as a result of studying the pangolin’s immune system, which shows resistance to the effects of viruses. Informing the public about this research could then strengthen efforts to preserve wild populations.

If nothing is done, then the pangolin will surely become extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists six out of eight species of pangolin (four African and four Asian) as endangered, with three in Asia critically endangered.

Protection & The Law

The IUCN has a specialist group leading efforts to save this extraordinary animal and governments around the planet have reaffirmed commitments to an international treaty to outlaw trade and make their conservation a priority. Still, Chinese companies continue to make pangolin-based treatments, despite an official ban on using them in medicines.

Technological breakthroughs such as advanced camera technologies using artificial intelligence makes monitoring wildlife and capturing poachers easier. But cracking down on corruption while tightening customs controls, banning commercial trade, and making sure medicines made from scales less attractive will weaken demand and reduce pressure on this rare and fascinating species.

Next Up

Climate Strikes: Rapid Action Needed to Stop Environmental Catastrophe

Saving the world is not an easy job, but cutting greenhouse gas emissions and limiting climate change is action the planet urgently needs, say scientists.

Biden Summit Commits Nations to Less Pollution and a Brighter Future

President Biden catapulted the US back into its international climate change commitments on Earth Day 2021 with a wide-ranging summit on industrial emissions, clean technologies, job creation, and innovation. Ambitious action on greenhouse gases was announced, with promises to reduce emissions by 50-52% by 2030.

There’s a Black Rhino Baby Boom in Zimbabwe

Finally, a success story for the critically endangered animal.

The American Wolf is Making a Comeback

The wolf evokes a strong reaction in most of us, whether it’s romantic images of the apex predator howling at the full moon, or anger at wolves encroaching on cattle grazing land.It’s a controversial topic, and so it’s even more important to sort fact from fiction.

Using DNA to Reunite an Orphaned Elephant with her Mother

After villagers found a tiny elephant wandering alone, scientists began the search for her mother using DNA matching technology.

The Mission to Save Grizzly Bear Cubs

When a mother bear is killed, what happens to her cubs? A team of scientists may have found a solution — an orphanage for grizzly bears.

New Discovery May Save Nearly Extinct Turtle Species

After the 2019 loss of the last confirmed female Swinhoe Softshell Turtle in China, extinction was all but confirmed. But a new discovery gives hope to the species: a female turtle living in a lake in Vietnam.

California’s Ocean is Neon - and It’s All Natural!

The California coastline is glowing and it’s not a trick of the imagination. Nature is putting on a show and it’s all thanks to some of the smallest organisms on the planet.

It's Baby Season at Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network

It’s easy to think of a wildlife photographer on assignment and picture the epic and exotic moments of migrations on the African Serengeti, bison standing tall on the grasslands of Yellowstone National Park or millions of migrating snow geese moving from the arctic to their winter roost thousands of miles south, but there is an equally incredible story taking place right in every backyard.

How a Change in Fishing Practices Saved Coral Reefs

Learn how a change in fishing practices unintentionally preserved the coral reefs of the Lakshadweep archipelago off the coast of India