• Anna Rothärmel

THE WORLD'S MOST TRAFFICKED ANIMALS


Illegal wildlife trade is booming. Not that big of a surprise with a turnover of at least 10 billion US-dollars per year and rank 4 of Organised Crime after drug trafficking, human trafficking and product piracy.

Although the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES has regulated and partly prohibited the trade with endangered species, still around 7,000 animals and plant species end up on black markets via smuggling routes. As status symbols or pets, for the tourism industry or because of alleged healing powers the number of wild animals in nature keeps reducing drastically and often puts them on IUCN's Red List. Which animals are trafficked the most? Check out my Top 7.



1. The Pangolin Approximately every eight minutes a pangolin is caught in the wild. The animal is a delicatesse in Vietnam and China and also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Its scales are said to heal a lot of things, from wounds to cancer. In fact they simply consist of keratin like our fingernails and have no scientifically proven effect. Nevertheless the pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal.



2. The Tiger No matter if from the wild or a tiger farm; these majestic animals are highly coveted. Their teeth are turned into jewellery, body parts into medicine and their bones are used for tiger wine. Even wihtout any scientifically proven healing effects, tigers are traded illegally especially in the Golden Triangle.

3. The Rhino As a status symbol, anti-hangover-cure or to heal cancer. Especially in China and Vietnam the rhino's horn is extremely popular leading to falling numbers in Africa. However, just like the pangolin's scales it simply consists of keratin.


4. The Elephant Up to this day ivory is in high demand – in Asia, Europe or the USA. Every year around 20.000 elephants die so that their tusks can be turned into jewellery, carvings or decoration.





5. The Serow Serows are goat-like animals and endemic to Asian countries. They are also supposed to have healing powers leading to their horns, skulls, heads and gallbladders being traded.



6. The Helmeted Hornbill Red ivory. This is what the casque of this hornbill is called and there's a reason for that name: it is regarded to be a great substitute for ivory and therefore used for carvings and decoration objects especially popular in China.

7. The Gaur The Gaur from South and Southeast Asia is the biggest bovine in the world and impresses with its unique horns. They are so beautiful that some people want to have them hanging at their walls as decoration.

How can we end this?

We have to get to the root of the problem. Most of these animals come from poorer countries and wildlife trade is a lucrative business for many people. On top of that there is corruption as well as mild sentences; the latter makes many of them continue. Approaches to solve this problem would be the fight against poverty and corruption, higher sentences and alternative sources of income. Raising awareness plays a crucial role as well since many simply don't know about the lack of healing powers or the way these animal parts are sourced. Organisations like the WWF have tirelessly been committed to ending wildlife trafficking and Corona has put the trade into the spotlight. Many are realising: wildlife trade needs to stop and this insight is a first step in the right direction.



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© 2020 Anna Rothärmel