You might not associate an ivory statue with the death of an elephant, but a single ivory trinket caused the death of a majestic elephant. Species are disappearing so quickly that scientists now debate whether the earth is going through its sixth mass extinction. Plants and animals go extinct for a variety of reasons, including climate change, habitat destruction, hunting and the introduction of non-native species. The use of animal parts in traditional medicine can also contribute to a species’ decline, despite there being no real evidence of the efficacy of these treatments. The rarity of a creature does not protect it from being killed in the name of “medicine”; it just raises the market price.
Between 35,000 – 50,000 African Elephants are Poached a Year!
The African elephant population has been cut in half since the 1970s due to ivory poaching. It is estimated that the African elephant could be extinct in the next 10 years if this does not stop.
Price of Ivory in China has Risen From 5 to 2,100 Dollars!
The African elephant population is quickly dwindling, making the price of ivory rise. China is the world’s largest market for ivory … the U.S. comes in close second.
Three Rhinos are Poached Every day!
Despite scientific evidence refuting the efficacy of rhino horn to treat illnesses such as cancer, it still remains a popular ingredient in Eastern Traditional Medicine. Rhino poaching reached epidemic levels in the 20th century, nearly driving all five species into extinction. But in the 1990s, China removed the Rhino’s from the list of ingredients approved for manufacturing medicines—rhino horn was supposed to relieve fevers and lower blood pressure, though any such effect was debunked by science—and rhino populations began to recover. That quickly changed a few years ago after rumours began circulating in Vietnam that rhino horn had cured a VIP of terminal liver cancer. Poaching, particularly of black and white rhinos in South Africa, ramped up and the animals are threatened once again.
Over One Million Pangolins Have Been Traded in the Past 10 Years!
Pangolins are largely poached for their scales, used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure for rheumatism or fever. Pangolin scale is often used as a substitute for Rhino horn. They are also eaten as ‘bush meat’ with the foetus being a ‘delicacy’ in parts of Asia. Pangolins originate from South East Asia and Africa. Their natural protection is to curl into a ball, similar to a hedgehog. There sadly skin protects them from most wild predators - but not from humans! African poachers can literally pick them up and place them in a sack. That poacher will get a few dollars buT pangolin scales, made of keratin, just like human hair and fingernails - are sold for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of dollar a gram.
There are More Tigers in American Backyards Than in the Wild!
The illegal wildlife trade also fuels the exotic pet trade. WWF estimates there are 5,000 tigers being kept in U.S. backyards … there are only around 3,000 left in the wild. While tigers originally lived across Asia, from Turkey to the eastern coast of Russia, their range has now dwindled to roughly a dozen countries in East and South Asia, and as few as 3,200 tigers may be left in the wild. Their decline is the result of the use of tiger skins, bones, teeth and claws in traditional medicine; they are believed to cure toothaches, give strength, vitality and sexual prowess. Criminal poaching syndicates can now get as much as $50,000 for the parts from a single tiger, and although international law bans the commercial trade of tigers, several countries permit the farming of tigers, further driving black-market demand.
30 % of the Asian Elephant Population is in Captivity!
Like the African elephant, the Asian elephant is at dire risk of extinction. There are an estimated 32,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. One-third of the remaining population are working animals used in zoos, circuses and tourist attractions. Asian elephants were once thought to be relatively immune to poaching—unlike their African relatives, only some males, instead of all adults, have ivory tusks—but that is not true. The animals are killed for their meat, hide, tusks and other body parts. In Myanmar, for example, small pieces of elephant foot are turned into a paste to treat hernias. A bigger concern, though, is that one in three Asian elephants are ‘working’ - used to haul logs and stones or in the tourist industry. Asian elephants have lost much of their natural habitat and increasing conflict between the animals and the growing human population.
28,000 Freshwater Turtles are Traded Every Day!
Around 80 percent of Asia’s freshwater turtle species are in danger of extinction. These turtles are used for medicine, food and pets.
Illegal trade in wildlife generates up to $20 Billion dollars a year!
ANY species that become part of this cruel trade quickly become endangered and threatened with extinction. As the supply of these animals drops, the price tag for their goods rises. It is a downward spiral towards mass extinctions.
Illegal Wildlife is the Fourth largest black market in the world!
Illegal wildlife is now a massive black market often run by professional gangs. It ranks behind Drugs, Human trafficking and the arms trade. Many wild animals are now being ‘farmed’ in China and the far east and Southern Africa to supply this ‘exotic trade’
Water Buffalo - extinct in the wild!
Purebred wild water buffaloes may already have disappeared from the world. Domestic varieties or hybrids may be all that remains in Southeast Asia, according to some estimates - no one, really knows. Researchers do agree, however, that the species is endangered. But that hasn’t stopped people from hunting them in places like Cambodia (the water buffalo is considered an alternative to rhino horn in the treatment of conditions ranging from fever to convulsions). The water buffalo has already been eliminated from much of Laos, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Chinese Alligator - under 200 left in the wild!
This small, freshwater crocodilian species now numbers fewer than 200 in the wild, mostly restricted to a small reserve in the Anhui province of China, along the lower Yangtze River. Habitat destruction, particularly dam building, has devastated the alligator population, but hunting has also taken a toll. Alligator meat is promoted as a way to cure a common cold and to prevent cancer, and alligator organs are also said to have medicinal properties. China has begun a Captive breeding programme, in an effort to restore the species with the aim of releasing them back to the wild.
Musk Deer - 7 species on the brink of extinction for perfume scent!
Seven species of musk deer are found in Asia, and all are on the decline. Thousands of male musk deer have been killed for their musk pods, a gland that produces the musk that gives the animals their name, that is been in perfumes. The musk, a brown, waxy substance, can be extracted from live animals, but “musk-gatherers,” who can get around $200 to $250 per gland from foreign traders, find it easier to kill the deer! Though perfume makers have found synthetic alternatives to musk, the hunting hasn’t stopped. Musk deer meat is considered a local delicacy, and musk is still used in traditional medicines for treating cardiac, circulatory and respiratory problems.
Sun Bear - Killed for their gallbladders!
The sun bear is one of several bear species killed for its gallbladder, which is used in Chinese Traditional medicine for treating everything from burns to asthma to cancer. Sun Bear populations have declined by more than 30 percent in the past three decades due to hunting and loss of their forest habitat. The killing of sun bears is illegal throughout their home range in Southeast Asia, but these laws are rarely enforced. In addition, commercial farms that raise bears to ‘milk their gallbladders’ for bile restock by capturing wild bears!
Grevy’s Zebra - Driven towards extinction because of farming!
The Grevy’s zebra once roamed across East Africa, but its population has declined dramatically from 25,000 in the 1970s to about 2,500 today. Traditionally they were killed for their skins and to eliminate competition for water between the zebras and cattle (kept for milk and meat). Gravy's Zebras can now be found only in northern Kenya and a few parts of Ethiopia. The Kenyan government developed a plan in 2008 to conserve the remaining population. Included in the effort was the recognition of the need to work with traditional healers who use the zebra’s meat and fat to treat diseases such as tuberculosis.
Banteng - Asian Cattle hunted to the brink of extinction - for their horns!
The population of wild banteng, a species of cattle native to southeast Asia, is now estimated to be somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000, a decrease of more than 90 percent since the 1960s. While land development and agriculture pose grave problems for the endangered species, poaching is a continued and direct threat, driven by the market for their horns, coveted as hunting trophies and use in traditional remedies. In 2003, banteng became the first endangered species to be successfully cloned, and researchers hope to use this technology for conservation purposes in the future.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle - Face extinction so we can use their shell for ‘trinkets’!
Although Hawksbill sea turtles can be found in environments ranging from the Caribbean Sea to the waters surrounding Indonesia, their numbers have dwindled to the point that they are now listed as critically endangered. Poachers hunt hawksbills for a number of reasons, including for their shells, which have been distributed worldwide as travel souvenirs and incorporated into jewellery and other decorative items and for their oil, whose use in traditional medicine has increased in recent years. Bans on trading turtle products and various sting operations have achieved limited success in stopping the species’ decline.
Human’s die too! Over 1000 Rangers Have Been Killed in 10 Years!
In an effort to protect species, many national parks and wildlife reserves have rangers who guard endangered species from harm. Given the high potential payoff for the sale of wildlife parts, poachers will do whatever it takes to kill wildlife … even if that means killing humans as well. Many of the Rangers are women, all have families that suffer hugely from their loss, not only as a parent but as the food and income provider. Rangers need better protection and equipment. They do an incredible job of protecting wild animals.