Hunting and Wildlife Trade
- Pet Trade Photo
- Endangered animals, like this tamarin, are taken from their forest homes and kept as pets or sold as bush meat in Ecuador.
- Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS
Wildlife trade is a critical global challenge—feeding an international appetite for exotic goods including ivory, pelts, traditional medicines, and wild meats. As the human footprint expands, so does the trade: The more access we gain into wild places, the more we exploit their resources. As WCS works to stem the unsustainable harvest of wild animals, our challenge is twofold. We must balance the subsistence and economic needs of local people with the control of a vast threat, which has driven many species to the brink of extinction, endangered ecosystems, and created new dangers to human health, spreading monkey pox, SARS, avian flu, and other deadly diseases.
Stemming the global wildlife trade also requires education and outreach on the domestic level. Through our North America Program, WCS is working with the U.S. military to develop and implement an outreach program for personnel ready to be deployed or already stationed overseas. Military personnel and affiliates posted overseas have significant buying power that influences local markets in the communities and regions where they are based, including the ability to drive the demand for wildlife products. These can include products derived from endangered species. Trade in wildlife products poses a major threat to wildlife populations.
As the eyes and ears for conservationists, ecoguards work not only to protect national parks and surrounding lands, but also to help evaluate the success of international conservation efforts.
WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit helps intercept the trade in illegal tiger parts on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The island’s populations of tigers and other endangered species are under siege by poachers who sell the animals into complex trade chains. These chains often terminate in illegal markets in China and other parts of East Asia.
To help Cameroon stem the dangerous trade in bushmeat from forests to lucrative urban markets, WCS partners with the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the CAMRAIL national train network—in the past, a common means of transporting large volumes of wildlife.
Despite having survived since the late Triassic Era, many turtle species will go extinct in the next decade unless drastic conservation measures are taken. WCS is working to guard their future by addressing one of their primary threats: persecution by wildlife traders and consumers for food, the pet trade, and traditional medicine.
As part of our efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade, WCS is working with the U.S. military to develop and implement an outreach program to discourage the purchase of wildlife souvenirs by personnel stationed overseas.
WCS works with the CIB logging company to reduce the pressures on gorillas, elephants, and other endangered wildlife in four timber concessions and to control the trade in bushmeat. This collaborative project is called PROGEPP: the Project for Ecosystem Management in the Nouabalé-Ndoki Periphery Area.
From the Newsroom
Scott Roberton, representative of WCS’s Vietnam Program, describes the country’s vast wildlife trade that is driving many species to extinction, as well as the progress being made to combat it.
The Bubble Safari social game from Zynga.org stars a monkey whose friends are captured by poachers. As they come to his aid, players can raise funds for WCS and its mission to save wildlife and wild places around the globe.
Poachers target elephants for their tusks, which they illegally sell for profit. Although demand is highest in China and Japan, a recent seizure in New York City serves as a stark reminder that no place is immune from the illegal wildlife trade.
No elephants are immune from increased poaching in the Republic of Congo. WCS advocates doubling the number of guards monitoring the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and surrounding areas, one of the few safe havens where elephant numbers have remained stable.
WCS VP for Species Conservation Liz Bennett details efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade and highlights the urgent need for additional security forces to slow and ultimately reverse the decimation of myriad charismatic species.