Let Them Live

By Muhammed Adheeb

Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species, but includes all plants, fungi and other organisms that grow or live wild in areas without being introduced by humans. Illegal trade of wildlife, living crime. According to the Unite Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES) wildlife crime is now the most urgent threat of the world’s best loved species – elephant ivory, rhino horns and tiger products.

In Asia, illegal wildlife trade is controlled by dangerous crime syndicates. Wildlife criminals often operate with impunity, making the trade a low-risk, high-profit business. Today it is the 5th most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $10 billion annually.

There are many indicators and considerable evidence relating to harvesting, processing, smuggling and trading of wildlife products through sophisticated techniques across borders. Furthermore, fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering, violence and corruption are often found in combination with various forms of wildlife crime.

In addition to the above forms of organized crimes against wildlife there are certain places in the works where wildlife is specifically targeted and threatened. These areas are called wildlife trade hotspots. They include China’s International Borders, trade hubs in the East/Southern East Asian region, the Eastern borders of the European Union, Some markets in Mexico, some parts of the Caribbean and Indonesia.

Unfortunately, Horns of Rhinos, Elephant ivory, products from a Tiger’s body parts from its whiskers to its tail command high prices among the Asians, especially for traditional medicine and folk remedies.

Even though Sri Lankas contribution towards wildlife crimes are minimal when compared to the other parts of the world, our national system of preventing wildlife trafficking works tirelessly to detect and prevent illegal trafficking of wildlife. Despite these efforts, there have been many incidents of wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime.

Apart from wildlife trafficking, the prevailing Human-Elephant conflict is a threat to the lives of elephants apart from ivory trade. Large scale development projects carried out in an unsustainable manner, without conducting proper feasibility studies and rampant corruption are some of the reasons for this problem to intensify.

But, on a positive note, countries with some of the highest wildlife crime are taking positive steps towards curbing such heinous activities.

Thailand has banned ivory trade while the United States of America has finalized new regulations that will help to shut down commercial ivory trade within its borders, and stop wildlife crime overseas. China has taken measures to ban ivory trade since 2017.

The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has sought action to toughen up existing laws by declaring wildlife crime as a serious crime. The United Nations General Assembly has also adopted the subordinate development goals which includes specific targets on tackling the illegal wildlife trade.

Apart from these, further positive initiatives should be taken by the governments regarding the use of DNA, Genetic testing and private ownership of wild animals. Illegal constructions, any kind of illegal land grabbing, clearing sanctuaries for plantations in an unsustainable manner should be stopped immediately. In order to achieve this, educating all involved is very vital, starting from school.