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Topic : Key Findings on Illegal Wildlife Trade (2015-2021)

GS-3 Mains : Environment Conservation

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Key Findings on Illegal Wildlife Trade (2015-2021)


  • Most Trafficked Animals:
    • Rhino horn (29%)
    • Pangolin scales (28%)
    • Elephant ivory (15%)
  • Other Affected Animals:
    • Eels (5%)
    • Crocodilians (5%)
    • Parrots & cockatoos (2%)
    • Carnivores (2%)
    • Turtles & tortoises (2%)
    • Snakes (2%)
    • Seahorses (2%)
    • Others (8%)
  • Most Affected Species:
    • Animal: Rhino
    • Plant: Cedar

Wildlife crime is a major threat to our planet’s biodiversity, driven by a complex interplay of factors:

  • Demand for Wildlife Products: Cultural beliefs, traditional medicine, fashion trends, and status symbols fuel a market for animal parts like ivory, rhino horn, and tiger parts.
  • Economic Incentives: Wildlife crime is big business, offering high profits for poachers, traffickers, and criminal organizations.
  • Weak Law Enforcement: Inadequate enforcement of wildlife protection laws, corruption, and limited resources make it harder to stop illegal activities.
  • Poverty and Lack of Livelihoods: People with limited economic opportunities may resort to poaching or trafficking for survival.
  • Globalization: Easy movement of goods across borders facilitates the smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products.

These factors create a vicious cycle:

  • Devastation of Ecosystems: Wildlife crime leads to population decline and extinction of endangered species. This disrupts entire ecosystems, impacting their ability to function and provide essential services.
  • Loss of Revenue and Sustainability: Governments lose potential revenue from legitimate wildlife-based industries like ecotourism and sustainable harvesting.
  • Ecological Cascades: Overexploitation of predators disrupts predator-prey balances, impacting vegetation and other wildlife populations down the food chain.
  • Disease Risks: Smuggling live animals and animal products can introduce zoonotic diseases that pose risks to human health.
  • Cultural Erosion: For indigenous communities, losing key wildlife species undermines cultural practices and traditions, leading to a loss of cultural diversity.

International cooperation is crucial in tackling wildlife crime. Here are key agreements:

  • CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species):Regulates trade in wildlife specimens to prevent overexploitation.
  • IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature):Leads global conservation efforts and provides technical support.
  • CMS (Convention on Migratory Species):Works to conserve migratory species across their ranges.

India’s Initiatives:

  • The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972:Provides strict penalties for wildlife crimes.
  • Wild Life Crime Control Bureau (WCCB):Coordinates enforcement efforts and gathers intelligence.
  • Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats:Promotes habitat conservation and species recovery.
  • National Biological Diversity Act (NBA), 2002:Offers legal framework for protecting biodiversity.

Constitutional Support:

  • Article 48A:Mandates environmental protection and wildlife conservation by the state.
  • Article 51A(g):Promotes environmental responsibility and compassion for living creatures.

The Road Ahead:

  • Strengthen law enforcement and wildlife management.
  • Address poverty and promote sustainable livelihoods for local communities.
  • Raise public awareness about wildlife crime and its consequences.
  • Engage local communities in conservation efforts.
  • Provide training and capacity building for relevant stakeholders.

Source :  www.downtoearth.org


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