If you’re an animal lover like I am, you might want to pay attention, because illegal wildlife trade is endangering some of the world’s most beloved species.
Animal parts and wildlife are sold in the same way drugs and arms are, and this illegal business is extremely profitable. Thankfully, the world’s leading conservation organization, the World Wildlife Fund, is doing everything it can to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Below are the five species most endangered by the practice, why they’re being targeted and what the WWF is doing to stop these atrocities.
Why They’re Endangered: The gorgeous animals are threatened by poachers who are in search of one thing: ivory. Each year, elephants are slaughtered, significantly reducing the animal’s population.
WWF Action: To help save the elephants, the WWF is training law enforcement teams to set up effective anti-poaching patrols.
Status: Critically Endangered
Why They’re Endangered: Rhinos, specifically the black rhino, are being poached for their horns. Similar to the plight of the elephants, rhino populations are being depleted by poachers. And why their horns?! It's partly due to the rumor that their horns can cure cancer and hangovers -- it's definitely not true!
WWF Action: The WWF recently established a new black rhino population. Nineteen black rhinos were recently taken via helicopter to a new, safer location where the population could increase.
Why They’re Endangered: Tigers are beautiful animals, and their skins (for fur coats and rugs) and bones are coveted by poachers.
WWF Action: According to the WWF, the organization has set a goal of “Tx2: doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.” To achieve this, the organization is working to enforce zero tolerance for tiger poaching in Asia.
+ Marine turtles
Why They’re Endangered: These friendly creatures are endangered because their eggs are overharvested, which means being hunted for their meat and eggs due to wide demand for both. Turtles are also a product of bycatch, or getting caught in fishing nets.
Why They’re Endangered: Sharks are hunted for their fins, which are used as an ingredient in some soups. According to the WWF, an estimated 73 million sharks are killed every year for this very reason.
WWF Action: The WWF is working closely with TRAFFIC, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitoring network, to “regulate the trade in shark fins and meat and reduce market demand.”
To learn more about the illegal wildlife trade, check out the WWF’s site to see how you can help stop wildlife crime or take action below to help stop this insanity!