National and international illegal trade in wildlife has grown to such huge proportions that it threatens seriously the existence of many species of plants and animals. It is not too late for the governmental bodies to understand and do something serious about these increasing crimes against our wildlife. Understanding what is being hunted, who is hunting them, and how it is being traded can help in tackling this growing menace.
Wildlife crimes are increasing on a large scale. Three of the world’s best-loved species – elephants, rhinos and tigers – are under serious threat. Illegal wildlife trade has exploded to meet increasing demand for elephant ivory, rhino horns, and tiger products, particularly in Asia. Controlled by dangerous crime syndicates, wildlife is trafficked much like drugs or weapons.
On the occasion of World Wildlife Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon released a statement urging all consumers, suppliers and governments to treat crimes against wildlife as a threat to sustainable future. The UN General Assembly proclaimed March 3 as World Wildlife Day in 2013 – the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Wildlife crimes in India
The scale of the crimes in our country can be gauged from some of the information put out by the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). WPSI, a wildlife conservation organisation founded by Belinda Wright, has recorded over 20,000 wildlife crime cases. While bringing focus onto the high rate of wildlife crimes in India, Bollywood actor Salman Khan was convicted in 2007 for hunting black buck for sport.
Other wildlife crimes, involving poachers and traders, were found to have targeted over 400 species of wildlife. WPSI has information about 16,000 wildlife criminals and their associates, interstate wildlife traders, smuggling routes, and new poaching and new poaching trade routes. The most threatened wildlife species in India are tigers, elephants, leopards and rhinos. Just 26,000 to 30,000 elephants may be left in the wild in India.
According to WPSI data, 18 elephants were poached between January and September 2014 for their tusks to meet the demand for ivory. The agency
has recorded the loss of over 120 elephants due to poaching between 2008 and 2011. During the same period, WPSI has records of seizure of 781 kg
ivory and 69 tusks, besides ivory pieces and carved articles.
(Read the full article in the May Issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2015)