Soon it may become hard to find wild animals in the wild.
The booming trade in wild animals and their parts is causing Asia’s wildlife to disappear. Already threatened species are now facing an even greater risk of extinction thanks to the trade. Habitats and delicate forest ecosystems are being disturbed as poachers invade them to collect wild animals to be sold as pets or killed for their body parts to be used in traditional medicine preparations and for decorative items.
The commercial trade in wild animals is a multi-billion dollar business that not only threatens the survival of many species. It also results in the inhumane treatment of billions of animals every year.
A great deal of this trade is illegal. Interpol estimates the illegal wildlife trade to be worth nearly $20 billion a year, just in Asia. The illegal wildlife trade has drastically reduced numerous wild animal populations and currently has some teetering on the brink of extinction.
Experts have even coined a new term – empty forest syndrome – to describe gaping holes in Southeast Asia’s biodiversity.
“There are lots of forests where there are just no big animals left,” says Chris Shepherd of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. “There are some forests where you don’t even hear birds.”