World Wildlife Day: the race to save wild animals from traffickers

NEW YORK – Today is World Wildlife Day, which this year is themed “Sustaining all life on Earth.” The message encompasses all wild animal and plant species as a component of biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of people, especially those who live closest to the nature. It also underscores the importance of sustainable use of natural resources in support of the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Goal 14 (Life Below Water), Goal 15 (Life on Land), Goal 1 (No Poverty) and Goal 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns).

Wildlife Trafficking Crisis and World Wildlife Day

Wildlife trafficking is contributing to the extensive decline of biodiversity worldwide, threatening endangered species with extinction, and leading to the substantial loss of income for populations that depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. One World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study shows that African elephant poaching results in about US$25 million in lost tourism revenue.

An African lion at Okinjima AfriCat Foundation’s sanctuary for injured or orphaned lions in Namibia. It is estimated that only 20,000 African lions have survived after decades of rampant poaching and trafficking. Photo by Kevin Pluck, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Although the loss of African wildlife garners the most attention, wildlife traffickers are decimating important wildlife populations around the world. Endangered species are being poached in Latin America, the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and the U.S. And once the products are smuggled out of the home country, they enter an industrial-scale illegal trade that spans the globe. Wildlife experts have confirmed that if we don’t act quickly, trafficking will wipe out many endangered species in our lifetime. Another WWF report reveals that we have already lost 60% of wildlife in the past four decades; globally, nature is an economic driver. WWF’s report estimates that “nature provides services worth around US$125 trillion a year”.

Wildlife Trafficking is a Global Problem

Wildlife trafficking is an international crisis, with an unprecedented increase in illegal wildlife trade throughout the world in the past 30 years. An unprecedented global demand for exotic wildlife and wildlife products has triggered an industrial-scale killing spree of endangered species animals on land and sea. Wildlife trafficking, which depends on the killing of hundreds of thousands of animals, is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry. Money from the illegal wildlife trade has been linked to terrorist organizations, drug lords, gangs, and corrupt governments—all at the expense of wild animals, the environment, and our national security.

The Radiated Tortoise, a critically endangered species targeted by poachers who sell their beautifully patterned shells to manufacturers of trinkets and other goods aimed at tourists.

WTA Members Leading the Way

LiveAuctioneers is working with the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA) to help combat wildlife trafficking and protect marine species from illegal trade. The WTA is a coalition of more than 70 leading nonprofit organizations, companies, and AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums that are working together to combat wildlife trafficking by: (1) raising public awareness; (2) effecting behavior change in order to reduce consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products; and (3) mobilizing companies to adopt best practices and help close off wildlife traffickers’ supply chains.

Much more information is available online at www.worldwildlife.org.

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‘Night Rescue’ by Cynthia DiDonato (U.S. Army Wife). Image courtesy of Salmagundi

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Daniel Ricciardo at Formula 1 2019 / Schloss Gabelhofen. Photo by XaviYuahanda, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

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Yoko Ono (Japanese/American, b. 1933-), Wish Tree for Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Image courtesy of the museum

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