More than tiger skins and ivory; illegal animal trade in Asia


Here is some great information about the illegal wildlife trade from someone who’s traveled in Southeast Asia! This post is mostly about the illegal pet trade, which is a serious problem that I haven’t written much about.

Wild Snapshots

Some of the world’s most unique species are facing rapid population declines as the billion dollar illegal animal trade booms.

If you’ve been to south east Asia, or even some areas of central and south America chances are you’ve seen monkeys, snakes or birds paraded around some of the biggest tourist hotspots; giving excited (usually well meaning) tourists the chance to snap a photo with an iconic or unusual animal for a price.

Apart from the many animal rights issues we often hear about such as the conditions these animals are kept in, there is another issue that’s just not as spoken about.

Where do these animals come from?

The answer quite frankly is that these animals are very often illegally taken from the wild.

The elephants that people are excited to jump on the back of are not only kept in terrible conditions, but they are also stolen from…

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3 Thoughts

  1. The thing that struck me when I first started to learn more about poaching is that we often picture it as “big poaching”, against elephants, lions or some large iconic species, with often Chinese demand for ivory and bones involved. Indeed, this more quiet touristy and pets trafficking hugely drives poaching and I’m glad someone is giving it more credit. I’ll never forget a couple of tours in Asia that involved visiting the “animal market”, an incredibly popular space where all sorts of animals were displayed and were sold ridiculously easily. It was a tourist attraction indeed, mentioned in guides and promoted. But we’re often pointing the finger at Asia, while even Europe is not performing much better. We’re not even better at hiding the whole thing. Poaching and trafficking are huge, to the point that EU security bodies are starting to place funds for these specific crimes. But, speaking of positive news now and going a little bit out of topic (but I think it’s worth it), when discussing trafficking I’d always mention the Eagle Network. They are an intelligence and law enforcement small NGO that performs in only a bunch of African countries. They publish each of their results on their website and have an average of at least one arrested poacher/trafficker every single day. The founder, Ofir Drori, also gave a very inspiring TED talk that is easy to find on youtube.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s not just East Asian countries that drive the demand for illegal wildlife trafficking: the US is a major participant in the illegal pet trade, if not THE major participant.

      I’ve never heard of the Eagle Network before, thanks for telling them about me! I’ll have to look them up at some point, and maybe feature them in a post or two.

      Liked by 1 person

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