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Illegal Wildlife Trade Across The World

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Illegal wildlife trade across the world is worth billions of dollars each year and is one of the major threats to the survival of our most iconic species in the wildlife such as Rhinos, Tigers and Elephants. According to U.S., illegal trade in endangered wildlife products, including rhino horns, elephant ivory, leather, and turtle shells, is estimated to worth more than $7 billion- $10 billion annually. These figures does not include illegal logging and illegal fishing, which accounts for an additional $30 billion – $100 billion annually and $10 billion- $23 billion annually, respectively. Each year, millions and millions of endangered plants and animals are being caught or harvested from the wild and then sold as pets, food, leather, ornamental plants, and medicine.

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While a huge deal of this trade is legal and is not harming wild populations majorly, a worryingly large proportion is illegal — and threatens the survival of thousands of endangered species in the wildlife.

Wildlife crime is a big business. They are being by dangerous international networks all across the world. In fact, wildlife and various animal parts are trafficked to the extent that of illegal drugs and arms. By very nature of these, it is almost impossible to obtain exact figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade across the world. Experts at the wildlife trade monitoring network – TRAFFIC, estimate that the aforementioned trade runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.

As a response to these frightening facts, representatives from around the world united in ratifying the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to protect the world’s wild plant and animal species by regulating their use in commercial trade.As of 2016, there are 183 signatories to CITES. CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union). The text of the Convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington, D.C., the United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force. The original of the Convention was deposited with the Depositary Government in the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish languages, each version being equally authentic.

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Ever since the convention came into force, more than 35,000 species of such endangered animals and plants have been listed on the appendices of the convention. It includes from tigers and elephants to mahogany and orchids. Its primary aim is to ensure that the international trade of wild animals and plants mentioned in such appendices does not threaten their survival.

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Illegal wildlife trade across the world. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from
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