The illegal pet trade smuggles brings in about 10Billion dollars into the US annually according to the United nations Office on Drugs and crime. Most commonly comprising of exotic birds like the harpy eagle, Bia k Lorikeet, or because of its ability to mimic human speech, the coveted African Grey Parrot. The illegal wild life trade has a devastating effect on many animals that would otherwise be considered untamable and wild. According to the IUNC 2016 red list wildlife trafficking is a huge threat to wild birds across the globe.
The red list also states that the African grey has been moved up from vulnerable to critically endangered due to high demand.
One of the most prized and highly poached animals are the Pangolin. The Pangolin’s scales are thought to have medicinal properties while their meat is considered a delicacy in some Asian countries fetching as much as 160$ for just 1 lbs. The scales although part of ancient Chinese medicine is made of keratin and have no medical purpose.
This poor animal in on the verge of extinction for nothing more than to become an expensive meal. That being said they have no defense system and no way of protection them self, rendering them completely helpless.
The Golden triangle or the area in which Myanmar, Thailand, China and Laos meet is recognized as the global hub for trafficking. There you can buy Ivory from elephants or rhino which is said to be a libido enhancer. While strolling the Mong La Market you can also see millions of dollars’ worth of endangered animal parts mostly used for traditional medicine and live animals destined for the exotic pet trade.
In 2016 nearly 55,000 Live animals where sized live from different ports from Latin America destined come to the US. One of the most devastating results of wildlife trade is the general animal population falling by 83% since the 1970s with the potential to lose around 2/3rds of the wild animal population by 2020.
The Smithsonian’s website maintains that wildlife sales crossing boarders has only been regulated since 1973. CITES or Convention on International Tran in Endangered Species also help enforce laws, but it largely falls to the specific country to enforce regulations. Maira Fernanda Espinosa; the Director of International Union for Conservation of Nature in South American told the Smithsonian in paragraph 5 of article
Most of the time the animals’ journey to its new home of to its death is not a pleasant one. Birds can sometimes be stuffed in tires to float across bodies of water, coolers to keep low key, or mouth taped to keep quiet and left in the pocket, these examples are some of the less cruel ways animals are trafficked across boards and just a couple of hundreds of ways.
Animal traffickers don’t care about the wellbeing of the animal, to them they are just a product to be bought or sold, not a living being. In 2016 a raid on a warehouse on Arlington, Texas revealed a horrific sight of thousands of animals from a common reptile like an iguana to a more exotic low Iorise. A make shift shelter was made for around 25,500 animals was made but unfortunately some were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized; around 4,000 animals had to be put down suspected to be ill with things such as septic shock and other infections.
Many animals that are illegally trafficked get disposed of. The way we handle it now is much more humane with a quick needle but that was not so at the beginning.
When animal trafficking first stated to gain attention there where a couple horrific incidents of improper and uncalled for destruction of animals. One would be of a gorilla and baby chimp being intercepted and confiscated by Egyptian officials in Cairo; Not knowing what to do with these animals and worrying that they may carry Ebola, they drenched them in an acid bath. In the end only about 20% of trafficked animals survive their journey.
The Lucky few that do get into a presumably caring home as a pet suffer something different most times; The after effects of an uneducated exotic pet owner.
Most of the time after finding out that they cannot continue to care for their newest fad wether it be because of the cost of food, improper habitat, smell, not ideal, or just sheer size some ignorant people dump these creatures in a pound or just out in the open hopping that their used to be pet can take care of them self or they know that this animal is not exactly legal and are afraid to take them to the proper authorities.
In the wild these animals either die from harsh conditions or they thrive, in some cases becoming invasive species. Such as
Burmese Python: believed to be release when they got too big growing to over 9ft wrong.
Over 2,000 have been removed from the everglades in Florida.
In 2017 100,000 pythons about 20ft long were thought to live in the everglades
Various Monkeys (Squirrel, Vervet, Rhesus): Yet another Florida invasion, believed to be kept as pets after the Tarzan movie came out in the 1930s. Unfortunately, they would escape or be released, after testing many of the captured monkeys have tested positive for Herpes-B.