By Jerrie Demasi
Would you purchase an endangered tiger's tooth as a cure for acne?
Perhaps not, but in many Asian countries, you could.
People need to be aware that when you see a full page ad in a magazine or newspaper for a conservation group and I would rather support a group that puts in every dollar that is donated into their projects.
The fact that the animal may be critically endangered can actually make the purchase more lucrative, as the rarer the animal, the more potent it's good fortune and healing properties.
Like the drug trade, wildlife trafficking is big business.
Advertisement In Cambodia, traffickers wait on the outskirts of forests waiting for village hunters to return with whatever their snares have trapped. The sale of rare and endangered animals is one of very few options they have to provide for their family.
This is the vicious circle that Perth woman Rebecca Tilbrook wants to break.
For 15 years as a conservationist, Ms Tilbrook has seen Cambodia's wildlife decimated by the illegal trade and last year decided to start her own charity, For the Animals.
"I don't want to see the tiger or the elephant wiped off the face of the earth during my lifetime," she said.
"I just think that it's unconscionable that we are even faced with that possibility, and it's a very real possibility."
When Ms Tilbrook first arrived in Cambodia more than a decade ago she was confronted with wild animals being tortured and sold on every street corner.
She says the practices have since moved underground, behind closed doors.
Bears are kept alive in restaurants waiting for customers to order bear paw soup, a delicacy at $300 a bowl. Chefs cut off each paw one at a time, leaving the animal alive, slowly bleeding to death, to ensure the meat remains fresh for the next order.
Other bears are sent to bile farms in China or Vietnam where they live in "crush cages" designed to squeeze every last drop of bile from their pancreas out through the needle of an old catheter, until they stop producing it and die.
Macaque monkeys are yet another culinary delicacy, served either screaming or drugged, strapped beneath the table with a hole for their head to poke through. More....