The Earth’s wildlife is now constantly at risk of being lost due to climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and human activities. If things aren’t taken seriously, on individual AND national level, we may well see the extinction of many more species right before our eyes.
Most threatened species we learn nowadays have “illegal trafficking” and “poaching to be kept as pets” as their major causes of endangerment. It is horrendous to see that around 20,000 African elephants are killed every single year by poachers.
What is Illegal Pet Trade?
Illegal Pet Trade is a multibillion-dollar business which incorporates illegal harvesting and trading of living animals and plants as well as parts or products that are derived from wildlife. This trade is greatly responsible for species endangerment.
Facts About Illegal Wildlife Trade
Let me share some eye-opening illegal pet trade facts. You will surely jump out of your chair to go and help these animals.
Fact 1. Illegal wildlife trade is biggest benefactor to extinction
Large-scale wildlife trading is one of the biggest drivers of wildlife endangerment and extinction. It has expanded beyond our scope of imagination. Elephants and rhinos, which have been on the planet for millions of years, could now cease to walk on earth in this century only!
Fact 2. Human Intervention has led to a significant loss
Humanity and its activities, including the illegal trafficking of animals, have led to an 83% reduction in all wild mammalian creatures. Half of all plant species have also seized to exist.
It is also astonishing to know that 60% of mammals on earth are only livestock, 36% are humans whereas the rest 4% are wild mammals.
Fact 3. The illegal trading goes onto destroy the wild population of various species
Illegal pet trading is an international concern of utmost importance. This is because it affects an extremely large variety of species.
Over the last 3 decades, a million African grey parrots have been removed from their natural habitat for international pet trading. Because of this, these species are now threatened.
Can you imagine that a highly abundant animal is now exceedingly rare?
Similarly, West African and Central forests have also lost twice as many parrots due to unreported illegal trading and high mortality rate during captivity and transportation.
Another species, the ring-tailed lemurs of Madagascar has almost wiped off from the island’s forests. It is now believed that more ring-tailed lemurs are living in zoos than there are in the wild.
Fact 4. Animals die during export
The fact that trading of animals is being done illegally across international borders, the process can be highly dangerous for animals and often lethal to the species being traded.
These animals have a tough and rigorous journey changing hands several times through different sources and exporters. Due to these animals being kept in an unbearable environment, they may not be able to survive along the way.
This is extremely inhumane and experts have calculated this action to reduce the life expectancy of animals and increase mortality by up to 80-90%.
Fact 5. People find illegal pets as cool
It is said that orangutans are in high demand, in domestic as well as international markets. Sadly, the practice of keeping pets is considered a luxury or a sign of power in many parts of the world.
In many parts of Indonesia, wildlife markets are a feature of much of the larger towns and cities. Despite being illegal, keeping primates as pets is a commonality in these areas.
Some people acquire orangutans just because it is illegal to do so. Their motive is to demonstrate power and boast that they are above the law.
Even larger wild mammals are also kept as pets, with the WWF estimating that 5,000 tigers are being kept in U.S backyards. This is an extremely high and surprising number, considering only 3000 tigers are left in the wild now.
Fact 6. Illegally introduced wildlife can destroy entire ecosystems
Negative effects of trafficking wildlife are not limited to that species or their habitats only. It also cause issues to the environment and disturbs ecological balance of the place where these exotic pets are taken to.
These species are “invasive” or “alien” to the new environment in which they are introduced, causing an upset in the balance of nature. For instance, the pet Burmese pythons let loose by their owners are said to be a major pest in Florida’s everglades.
This is why conservationists have requested to set up a permit system which controls movement of different species across habitats.
Fact 7. Carrier of various dangerous diseases
Most of the exotic pets can cause health issues, even for the owners of these exotic pets.
According to the US Humane Society, all reptiles and amphibians carry the gram-negative bacteria Salmonella, with 74,000 cases of Salmonella poisoning being traced back to their pets each year in the United States.
Exotic pets like African rodents and monkeys carry herpes, monkeypox, and even rabies; all of which are highly contagious and fatal human diseases.
Fact 8. The multi-billion-dollar market
Today, 7000 species of wild animals have been traded illegally around the world in exchange for huge amounts of money. These illegal trading can generate up to 20 billion dollars a year from animals such as pangolins, rhinos, rosewood, parrots, elephants, and more
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals on the planet!
Over one million pangolins are killed annually, since then the global trading of pangolins has been banned. Even after so many restrictions being placed, pangolins are still being illegally traded.
They are mainly poached due to their association with Chinese medicine, the value of their scales, and for their meat. They are said to be the most trafficked animal on the planet with China being the major culprit involved in its illegal trading.