In all honesty, I can not believe that we are still having to have this discussion. It makes me so sad, and frustrated. The world has been shown time and time again the destruction that happens when we abuse and mistreat both our planet, and the species we share it with. The warnings are getting louder, because we are not listening! The abuse of other sentient beings has to stop. Wildlife protection has to become a priority. The current pandemic, Covid 19, was believed to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan. If you are unsure what a “wet market” is, they are markets that sell live animals, both domestic and wildlife. Conditions are usually poor, and animals plentiful! It is hard to imagine isn’t it. Trading. Wildlife!
Many species of wildlife, often ripped from the wild, are being “traded” at market. It is believed that consumption of bat’s sold at these markets, caused a world wide pandemic. Yet, these markets still function! Despite the warnings we are being shown again and again, the wildlife trade still exists. This is not just a wildlife protection issue. It is a world health issue. However, the world now has some awareness and understanding of what is happening, it is time to end this cruel trade once and for all.
Wildlife Protection – Why are the animals traded?
As you know if you have been a reader of my blog for a while, you will receive no judgment from me for past mistakes. If you have taken part in wildlife tourism activities and feel guilty, you are on the right track! Not one of us live perfect lives. We learn and move forward. But I know for many people, the fact that wildlife trade even exists was a surprise. There were ripples of disbelief that this trade even went on. Sadly, it does. It is happening. It needs to stop.
The wildlife sold at these markets are destined for many things. None of them good! The animals are either taken from the wild, or bred in captivity. They are used for;
- The wildlife tourism industry (big cat selfies, elephant rides etc)
- Traditional medicine
- As “exotic” pets
- Entertainment industry
I also know that many think that here in the UK, the trade is not relevant. That it is something that happens in distant, far away countries. Well, that is naive. The UK market for wildlife is sadly, flourishing. The UK currently imports many protected species, such as tortoises and reptiles. These are often captured in the wild, then legally imported into the UK. Yep. Our legal system allows the trade in wildlife. So…. It is not other countries problem. It is our problem. It is a world wide problem.
Unbelievably, the trade in wildlife is a multi-billion dollar industry. This of course makes it harder to stop. As we know, money rules the world! The profits stated are just from the numbers that can be tracked. The industry operates both legally, and illegally, (so it is hard to know true figures) and it is in a similar category profit wise, to the trade of arms, drugs and people! That is just mad to me. But we can be the voice for the animals. We can make a difference.
The Facts and Figures of the Wildlife Trade
Now, I am going to hit you with some facts here ok? Buckle up. They are tough, and staggering to see. When I saw the facts and figures of the wildlife trade, I was so shocked. Heart broken and shocked. They are hard reading, I know, but I believe they are important to know. Knowledge is power. It is how we can spread awareness. Oh, and these figures are just the animals that we know are being peddled in this industry EACH AND EVERY YEAR. You ready???
The little souls that we exploit and trade in every year are…
- Around 40,000 live primates
- 4 million live birds
- 640,000 live reptiles
- 100 different species of live mammals
- Over 500 species of birds, (over half being parrots)
Those figures are in addition to the animals, birds, mammals etc already in the trade. Some of those existing figures are as follows;
- 17 million exotic pets in the US
- 1.4 million exotic pets in the UK
- 3000 + dolphins in the “swim with dolphin” trade
- 8000 tigers in captivity for breeding in Asia alone
- 2200 elephants in the wildlife tourism trade in Thailand alone!
- 24000 bears in the bear bile industry
In addition to these figures, it is important to know the following;
over half of the live mammals traded are ripped from the wild
Many do not survive the trauma, bad conditions they are kept in and the stress of being ripped from their homes.
Let that sink in for a moment…… It is pretty heavy reading, I know. But, we can only be passionate about change if we are aware of what needs changing right? Awareness and education is were it starts. I am not writing this post to distress anyone. But, neither will I apologise for shining a spotlight on this awful trade. Wildlife needs to stay in the wild! They are not ours to own and exploit! We need to act on the compassion and moral obligation we have, and demand change.
How does the Wildlife trade impact the Environment?
The issue of the wildlife trade is a multi layered one. It is pretty clear how the wildlife trade can cause distress, pain and stress to the animals. But what about the environment? Well, the worlds eco system is a balance isn’t it. If you take out a part of that cycle, it is going to have an impact. There are currently over 1 million species of plant and animals at imminent risk of extinction! Over 1 million!!! There has also been an increase in species being in environments that they are not native to. This increase is thought to be around 40% since 1980. The main reason for the displacement of these animals is the wildlife trade and other human activity. We have a lot that we are responsible for! Animal conservation, and wildlife protection solutions have to be implemented and acted on now.
Animal Conservation – What can we do to aid wildlife protection?
The good news is, one of the things we can do is an easy one and completely within our power. Simply speaking, do not take part in any wildlife tourism activities! As tempting as it may be. Despite the convincing stories of the place being a “sanctuary”. Do not be fooled. You may have already seen on my blog, I have spoken before about my guilt at contributing (unwittingly) to the misery of the wildlife tourism industry. I wrote about it in this post, Ethical Mistakes I made, so I know how easy it is to be convinced that we are not doing anything wrong. Thankfully, with more and more awareness growing, we will not be fooled so easily! Remember, that “dolphin swim” or “tiger selfie” is just fuelling the trade in misery to these animals. When I interviewed wildlife activist Sam, she gave some great advice on how to avoid contributing to the wildlife tourism trade.
Another simple ting we can do, is to make sure our Countries leaders know we want change. In November 2020, there is a G20 meeting of global leaders. We need our government to be at the forefront in pushing for a ban in the wildlife trade. World Animal Protection are heading a coalition to call Boris Johnson to lobby world leaders at the meeting. Full details of the campaign are here and I urge you to click the link. Let’s face it, this current pandemic should simply be the nuts and bolts to this argument. If we needed any more convincing that Mother Nature is just not happy with how we are abusing her and her inhabitants, we got it fully up in our face! We can not really be given a clearer message!
A global pandemic was created by the wildlife trade. An end to this trade needs to be a world public health, as well as compassionate and ethical priority to stop the trade. There are 11 leading animal protection groups supporting the wildlife trade ban. World Animal Protection (of which I am a proud ambassador), Four Paws UK and Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting are just some of them.
The global pandemic has been catastrophic. Human cost has been high. Global financial cost has been high. There is not a person on the planet that has not been affected in some way. That is crazy! It is absolutely the time to push hard on getting this trade banned. Covid, Saars, Ebola. All disease from the wildlife trade. Repeated lessons, each one screaming at us a little louder. A wise philosopher once said,
You will keep being presented with the lesson, until you learn the teachings
Well, it is time. The lesson is loud and oh so clear. We need to act on and implement what it is teaching us. Click the link to the petition. Help be the voice for our wildlife.
I really appreciate you reading through this post. I know it is pretty hard to read and the images, are very emotional. Trust me, it is hard for me to research and write it. BUT. My discomfort, your discomfort, are what will propel change. I read something that really resonated with me. It said that 2020 should not be thought of as the year that never was. It should be thought of as the year that was in many amazing ways! It is the year that shook us by the shoulders. It is the year that motivated us and showed us that great changes need to be made to enable us to move forward being better and doing better in so many areas. It is our chance to act.
I would as ever, love to know your thoughts about this. Let me know in the comments how you feel.