How to avoid illegal animal trafficking

Today there are many organizations that fight to defend the rights of animals and guarantee their well-being. All this is a consequence of the fact that many of them are illegally traded for various reasons, such as the use of their skins in fur, for collectors and exhibitions or their use in circuses and shows, as well as because in underdeveloped countries it is a way of life with the that many manage to survive, something that must be changed on a political and social level. It seems again that the human being forgets his animal nature to spread with other species.

What is the trade in exotic species

In the first place, we must clarify that the trade in wild animals itself includes the trafficking of these in a legal and illegal way , as well as the derivative products that can be obtained from them such as skins, bones and horns, such as trophies, decoration or meat for consumption. It may sound strange to you that it can sometimes be considered legal, but in some countries it is. In this case, it should be noted that this trade in wild animals is regulated by laws aimed at the protection of those species that are in danger of extinction.

If we talk about numbers we could get a better idea of ​​the magnitude of the wildlife trade. According to WWF ( World Wildlife Fund ), around 30,000 elephants, more than 1,000 rhinos and around 100 tigers are killed for the trafficking of their skins, bones or horns.

However, animal species are not the only ones suffering from illegal trafficking. Exotic plant species are also traded , for example, about 440,000 tons of medicinal plants are traded per year and 1,000 tons are cut down, that is, 1,000,000 kilos of exotic woods such as rosewood, such as some species of rosewood, used in musical instruments or luxury furniture.

The illegal trade in species constitutes a serious threat to those that are classified as threatened or in danger of extinction . Only in 2014 it was estimated that animal smuggling generated between 7,000 and 23,000 million dollars, thus making the illegal trade in wild species the fifth most profitable illegal business in the world, behind drug trafficking and trafficking. of people, among others, and ahead of arms trafficking.

In the case of wild animals, this trade includes both pets and other animals that can be kept at home, as well as the derivative products mentioned above. Species trade becomes illegal when it breaks with the standard established by the CITES Convention , which we comment on in the next section, quarantine laws or other regulations that regulate said trade.

Another important point why this illegal trade in wild animals should not be encouraged is that it can pose a risk to health, as they can carry diseases that transmit to people, such as bird flu or the Ebola virus. This happens because, being an illegal trade, it does not go through sanitary controls .

The CITES Convention

There is an international CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). This agreement establishes a worldwide network of controls on the international trade of wild species that are threatened. These species, as their name indicates, include animal and plant species, both living and dead, and their derivative products, that is, they also protect hides, ivory, shells, seeds, extracts … Everything that comes from species protected by the Agreement.

With all this, it is intended to conserve threatened wild species ensuring that if there is trade, it is sustainable, legal and does not threaten their survival.

The licenses and permits established by the Convention for the import, export and re-export of the species are granted by the competent national authorities. Export permits are administered in the country of origin, while import permits are administered in the destination country. All these permits must be obtained and processed prior to the exchange of the species, so that they are documented and their origin, destination and the reason for which they are marketed are known.

Currently many governments, agencies and organizations work together to end the illegal trade in wild animals , as well as that of plants and other vegetables.

Some of the agreements created for this purpose are the CITES Convention, previously mentioned, the Coalition against Trafficking in Wild Fauna, created in 2005 by the United States, the Network for the Enforcement of the Law of Protection of Wild Fauna of the Association of Nations of the Southeast Asia, in Thailand, or the South Asian Wildlife Protection Law Enforcement Network, in Nepal.

All of them collaborate closely with the organizations that are in charge of applying the pertinent legislation through the International Consortium to Combat the Crimes against Wild Life and with important conservation organizations, such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

At a foot level, we can also contribute to controlling the illegal trafficking of species with actions such as these:

  • Report traffickers or sellers of wild and exotic fauna to entities that are in charge of their regulation such as foundations, environmental police, for example in Spain we would go to SEPRONA, or other organizations in charge of regulating these situations of illegal animal trafficking.
  • Do not go to circuses or shows that use animals for the entertainment of people at the cost of their own physical and mental well-being. Do not participate in animal exploitation , both indigenous and exotic species, which are in circuses with animals, if you want show entertainment you can opt for circuses without animals.
  • Of course, do not buy wild animals, as this would increase their demand and benefit the black market where they come from. In addition, these animals can transmit dangerous diseases.
  • Do not buy garments made from animal skin as, in most cases, the methods that their merchants use to obtain their skin cause them unimaginable suffering until the animals die, instead of removing the skin when they have already died, due to a matter of quality of the final product. Not by wearing animal garments, even if they are exotic species, will you increase your social status or improve your economic level.

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