Oakland Zoo is partnering with more than 200 wildlife conservationists, representing more than forty zoos and wildlife programs in thirty-six countries to urge governments around the world to increase resources needed to combat the illegal wildlife trade. The goal is to raise public awareness that the time is now; governments and agencies must act.
“The spike in the illegal wildlife trade should be great cause for global alarm,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. “The decline in forest elephants, sharks, big cats and countless others is unfathomable. As these species are plucked from the wild, they cannot reproduce fast enough to keep natural systems functioning. This illegal trade threatens to not only devastate precious species, but could unravel entire ecosystems.”
During last month’s Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation Conference (ZACC), zoo officials, scientists, and wildlife experts came together to take action against poachers who are devastating wildlife populations around the world. Expanding awareness is an important role for zoos. It is the goal of ZACC to encourage the general public to view zoos as centers for wildlife conservation and reliable conservation information.
“Guatemala has already lost such beautiful and iconic animals as the Harpy eagle, giant anteater and the military macaw,” said Colum Muccio, ARCAS Administrative Director. “We are currently struggling to save the scarlet macaw, jaguar and leatherback sea turtle. Wildlife trafficking is a major cause of these extinctions. This threat makes our work ever-more difficult, threatening not only the survival of these species, but also the livelihoods of the marginalized, rural residents who are our allies in saving endangered Guatemalan animals.”
According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. Ivory estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons—a figure that represents 2,500 elephants—was seized in the thirteen largest seizures of illegal ivory in 2011. Poaching threatens the last of wild tigers that number as few as 3,200. This is an organized, illegal, multibillion-dollar business that desperately needs stricter regulation. If this practice does not change, tigers, rhinos, elephants and more will become extinct. The illegal wildlife trade is an industry based on supply and demand. Not only is this deplorable activity destroying animal populations worldwide, the illegal wildlife trade has also been linked to illicit drug trade operations, weapons proliferation, and human trafficking. More....