What is wildlife trade?
- timber used for furniture or building materials
- exotic flowers, plants or pets
- ingredients for medicines and cosmetics
- clothes, shoes or bags
However, a worryingly large proportion is illegal and threatens the survival of many endangered species. In fact, illegal wildlife trade is second only to habitat destruction as a cause of species loss and potential extinction.
Since 1975, an agreement between governments around the world known as CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) aims to ensure the international trade in a wild plant or animal does not threaten its future. At the moment there are 175 member states, or ‘parties’, signed up to CITES – in other words the vast majority of countries in the world. Singapore is a signatory to CITES since 1986.
Shocking Statistics• Illegal wildlife trade stands as the fifth most profitable illegal trade behind counterfeiting, drugs, guns and human trafficking.
• More than 23 tonnes of illegal ivory was uncovered in a number of big seizures in 2011 - which itself corresponds to at least 2,500 elephants.
• The world’s second-largest seizure of ivory was made in Singapore in 2002.
• There may be as few as 3,200 wild tigers left in the world - and the increase in poaching makes extinction of tiger species a very real threat.
• Between 2007-2011, rhino poaching in South Africa increased 3,000 percent. In 2012, it reached a new record high of 455 rhinos.