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Wildlife trade is defined as the commerce of products that are derived from animals and plants, they are legally or illegally traded very often in international markets; which by consequences is related to hunting or poaching.

Wildlife trade is threatening not only animals and plants life but also our life, human life, it’s a crime not less importance than the drugs and arms illegal traffic. The United Nations affirmed that “it is a crime threatening many plants and animal species”.

Over the past 40 years, nearly 52% of the world’s wildlife have been disappeared; because of the deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade: the standard rate of species extinction was accelerated to be about 1.000 times faster than normal.

Photo from One Green Planet

Photo from One Green Planet

Every year even every day an increasing number of animals were killed, the highest valued products are the elephants’ ivory, reptile skins, pangolin, parrots and sturgeon caviar. There are three rhinos which are poached every day. Hunted elephants for their ivory, especially in Africa, is being shipped and having destination as Southeast markets. As stated by the National Geographic magazine, just last year, poachers slaughtered an estimated 35.000 African elephants, amounting to over 95 elephant killed per day.

And over the past 25 years, the wholesale price of ivory in China has risen from$5 to $2,100, according to one green planet.

Haunted Polar bear for their parts and tigers for their skin and bones or even sea turtles and sharks for making fin shark soup in China!

These species are often already threatened and in danger of extinction. Their overexploitation threatens as well the survival of many species.

These animals’ products are traded as skins, leather goods or even souvenirs. Food or even medicine like in Asia: Rhino horn is used as a powerful traditional medicine for several kind of diseases.

Country commitments on fighting wildlife trade. Data and infographic from WWF.

Country commitments on fighting wildlife trade. Data and infographic from WWF.

As mentioned by the United Nations, “every country in the world either as a source, transit or destination” plays a role to fight against the world wildlife trade.

The Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok, is known as center of illicit wildlife trade despite the international and local laws; the animals’ products are sold openly without restrictions in markets throughout Asia.

In South America as well, a variety of rainforest animals are sold as well openly, many of them as pets. They are smuggled across the borders the same way as drugs. As mentioned by “One green planet”: “There are more tigers in American backyards than in the wild”….”only around 3.000 left in the wild.”

Unintentionally, tourists participate as well in this illegal trade by buying ivory and animal’s skin products as gifts and souvenirs.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the wildlife trafficking is the “second only to habitat destruction in overall threats against species survival”. The WWF considered the world wildlife trade as the fifth most profitable illicit trade in the world- estimated to be worth $10bn a year.

The Traffic report on illegal ivory trade in Egypt issued by January 2012, mentioned that Egypt remains Africa’s third largest illegal market for ivory. Cairo is considered as a transit less than a destination for animals trafficking from Africa to Asian’s markets. Egypt has been a signatory to CITES (Convention on International trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora) since 1978. The Egyptian society of Animal friends, mentioned that the illegal trade will cost the smugglers nearly EGP 15 billion (US $ 25 billion). The Egyptian authorities are seeking to apply the law by stopping the smugglers in the Cairo International Airport. Nevertheless there must be a worldwide penalties to stop the poachers and long term jail sentence, the worldwide trade must be considered as a “serious crime”.

The United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim the 3rd of March as world wildlife day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora.

The wildlife trade has a negative impact on human’s lives, harms the balance of Nature which causes a serious disturbance and threatens the biodiversity.

Raising awareness is one of the most effective ways: by diffusing videos, social media campaigns. Literature has also her own way to reach the public like the book titled: “Wildlife trafficking: a deconstruction of the victims and the offenders” by Tanya Wyatt which is talking widely about the importance of wildlife in humans’ life and how to fight against the “black market”. Music is also effective as well like the latest Yanni’s version of “never too late” which contains quotes with messages to encourage the audience to protect the planet and the environment as: “The Earth doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the Earth”.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela. The International Fund for Animals Welfare (IFWA) is organizing many educational kids’ programs to empower the youth to take positive actions for animals.

We must awaken our souls against this crime, we must be grateful to this planet and we must recognize the right of each animal to live in peace without being afraid of each approaching human toward it.

Aya Kathir

About Aya Kathir

Aya Kathir is an Egyptian freelance writer and research in Human Rights field and Climate change. She has got a bachelor's degree in French Literature from Cairo University, Egypt. She resides nowadays in U.S. She contributed in translating the handbook of Climate tracker, the Arabic version. She writes articles in Arabic, French, and English as well on websites as eraenvironment.com