Tuesday, March 3 is World Wildlife Day. This year’s theme is ‘Get serious about wildlife crime’.
The Species Survival Network urges individuals from around the world to take a stand against wildlife crime and over-exploitation by taking a few small steps:
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF. Few people realize how serious wildlife crime is in our world today. While many consumers might shun buying ivory, many commonly available wildlife products, such as python leather or exotic pets, may be entering the market through illegal or unsustainable means. We urge you to educate yourself about the many ways wildlife crime operates, and make sure that you are not, unknowingly, a part of it.
2. DON’T BUY. Don’t buy wildlife or wildlife products, including wild-caught exotic pets, if you don’t know how they were acquired. Don’t support industries that exploit wildlife. Nobody needs luxury wildlife products (fur, ivory, leathers, caviar). Medicinal products made from smuggled wild animals (tiger, pangolin, rhino, snake, seahorse) are illegal in many countries, risk wiping out rare species, and probably don’t work anyway. Luxury tropical timbers (mahogany, ebony, rosewood) are the target of smugglers around the world.
3. BE INVOLVED. Work with local, national and international organizations to stop wildlife crime and protect internationally traded wildlife from over-exploitation. Get involved with an SSN Member organization.
4. BE REPRESENTED. Contact your national wildlife authorities to ensure that they are doing the best they can to protect wildlife in trade, and to implement and enforce CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Find out if your native wildlife species legally enter trade and, if so, whether the full provisions of CITES are being implemented to ensure that trade is both legal and sustainable. Ensure that your views on wildlife trade are represented by your government at CITES meetings.
5. REMEMBER: WILDLIFE CRIME IS REAL CRIME. Illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is the fourth-largest money earner for organized crime in the world today, after drugs, human trafficking, arms shipments and illegal oil sales. Wildlife crime provides terrorist organizations with the money to buy weapons. Tell anyone, and especially your elected representatives, who thinks wildlife crime is a small matter that they had better think again.