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Illegal Wildlife Trade - a Form of Organised Transnational Crime

26 June 2014, By Madhav Datt , Founder President of Green The Gene, India

Over the years illegal wildlife trade has emerged as a form of Organised Transnational Crime that has threatened the existence of many wild species across the globe. In India, it includes diverse products including 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. A large part of this trade is meant for the international market and has no direct demand in India.

That happens despite the observation of WWF India that," India has a strong legal and policy framework to regulate and restrict wildlife trade. Trade in over 1800 species of wild animals, plants and their derivative is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. "
Here it becomes necessary to quote some hard facts -

  • The illegal animal trade---which includes the trafficking of ivory, tiger parts, rhinoceros horn, shark fin, exotic birds, reptile skin, bush meat and wildlife products is valued at least $10 billion and may be twice that.
  • CITES officials highlighted the plight of a small cousin of the salamander called Kaiser’s spotted newt (Neurergus kaiser), native to Iran. Only 1,000 specimens remain in the wild, experts estimate, but a 2006 Internet survey found several sites advertising the colourful creatures for 220 euros a piece.
  • An “estimated 4.4 leopards” killed per week in India - this is absolutely huge!

Another sobering statistic tells us that today, there are more Bengalese tigers in Texas than in the Bay of Bengal region. With problems aplenty, it all comes down to a strong law enforcement by Governments, along with the more important aspect of educating and sensitizing the people, the end consumers of these goods, and that is where the role of Non-governmental organizations come in. So all of us ought to remember that we must be careful and work consciously towards responsible consumerism. Remember that anything, from buying the "cute and colorful" parrot off a bird shop to eating a fancy meal at a seafood restaurant may be contributing to illegal wildlife trade!

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