- The World Environment Day 2016 is celebrated on the 5th of June
- It is celebrated to raise awareness about key environment issues.
- This year's theme for World Environment Day is ' Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade'
Illegal poaching of animals for their fur or their ivory is leading to drastic reductions in numbers and forcing them into extinction. Wild life trade is when animals or plants are sold or exchanged without Government approval.
Reasons for Animal Poaching:
‘Illegal wildlife trade could lead to extinction of certain species affecting the balance of human life too.’
Demand for Wildlife Products:
- Rhino horn
- Tiger skin for decorative purpose
Illegal wildlife trade continues to flourish owing to the huge demand for the animals and the animal products. People are used to the luxury and do not change their mindsets to use products that are not from animals. The demand for wildlife trade is largely in rich sections of the society which can afford to pay high amounts and which view animal products as a status symbol.
Superstitious Beliefs and Medicinal Purposes:
Some people believe that consuming certain animal products improves their health and well being. There has been a drastic increase in the number of rhinos that are being poached owing to the belief that
rhino horns cure cancer
. The price for rhino horns is sold equal to its weight in gold, driven by the greed of society that has encouraged killing.
Extent of Trade
In one year, there is recorded trade of
- 100 million tonnes of fish
- 440,000 tonnes of plants that are medicinal
- 1.5 million live birds
The major difference between animal trade that is legal and illegal wildlife trade is that many species of endangered animals are transported illegally. This leads to depletion in their numbers with widespread poaching. The animals are mercilessly killed for their tusks and fur or are transported under great stress in unhygienic conditions.
The most disheartening aspect of illegal wildlife trade is that masterminds and kingpins who spearhead the trade are most often unidentified while poor people who take to poaching to gain their next meal are arrested and punished, letting the kingpins go scot free.
Alarming Facts About Numbers of Tigers:
Tiger is the national animal of India but its dwindling numbers are a cause of concern.
- 3200 tigers in 2014
- Only 2500 breeding adults
- Between the years of 2000 to 2014, 1590 parts of tigers were identified in places where tigers roam.
- China has tiger farms that are illegally run and which supply tiger meat as food and tiger bones for medicinal use.
Recently a Thai temple for tigers came under the scanner when it was raided and found to be exporting tiger parts to China. This temple was hugely popular among tourists as tigers lived peacefully along with humans. For a small fee, a tourist could feed the tiger or sit next to the tiger and take a photograph. A raid recently by government agencies found that this was just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly 5000 tigers were illegally trafficked and 40 tiger cubs were found dead in 2 freezers in the temple premises, shocking environmentalists and laying open the filth associated with illegal wildlife trade.
Illegal wildlife trade is the fourth in the list of illegal trades across the world. Colman O'Criodain, WWF's wildlife trade specialist says "We don't want to see tigers commercialised in any way. The fact is, the wilder the tiger, the better the medicine is considered. It's also very expensive to rear tigers in captivity. With the difficulty of separating farmed products from wild ones, it's too much of a risk. There is too much temptation to cash in."
The World environment day is not only about illegal wildlife trade but about protecting the environment and saving resources for the future. Indian prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has said that conserving forests and water is every citizen's duty and that the
Earth should be kept clean and green
Here are some ways of safeguarding our environment
- Stop using animal products, whether its leather bags or shoes or even wallets.
- Stop using beauty products that are tested on animals
- Stop buying ornamental products made from animal parts like ivory tables.
- Do not litter the environment
- Don't light bonfires in a forest, if you do, extinguish it completely before you leave. Bonfires left unattended have led to massive forest fires that have destroyed flora and fauna.
- Conserve water, do not use more than you need to
- Fix leaky taps immediately.
- Recycle, re-use and sustain the environment
- Carry cloth bags to grocery stores