By Melissa Stoneburner
Approximately ninety-seven percent of the tigers across the world have been lost in the last century. Tigers are not the only wild animals that are losing their lives senselessly to human wants.
Take for instance the fact that in just the last 13 years alone that there has been a 76% decline in the elephant population; that just last year 1,200 rhinoceros were killed. Illegal wildlife trafficking is not only against the law, it is taking these beautiful animals away from the rest of the people that love them simply for being them.
Finally the government is stepping in; taking an effort to combat this horrific problem. People will be able to get the opportunity to learn more about the world of illegal wildlife trafficking at a new exhibit entitled “Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur: The Ugly Truth of Wildlife Trafficking.” The exhibit will be at the Crime Museum which is located in Washington, D.C. The hope is that the exhibit will be able to educate and raise awareness about these issues.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking is an issue that we should all be concerned with,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer of the Crime Museum. “The manner in which these poached animals are killed is horrific. If we educate the public on this cruelty, maybe consumers will stop purchasing goods like ivory earrings or tortoise shell necklaces.”
Thankfully someone is doing something for the tigers, but is it too late already? The Crime Museum is collaborating with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and a group of other amazing partners in order to offer the Wildlife Trafficking exhibit to the public. Tigers and other wildlife being killed for their skin, tusks and shells produce about $20 billion in earnings annually in the illegal trade market.
All traffickers see is dollar signs so they want in on the profit as well. This leads them abroad to illegally kill the tigers and other animals for their particular body parts that sell so well on the black market. Not only are tiger skins on the market, but so are their bones; ivory from elephants, bladders from bear and fish, rhinoceros horns, shells from sea turtles and so much more sell – even to American consumers – even though we would hope that they would know better!
All shoppers, no matter where they reside, should realize that when they purchase these illegal goods that the big cats and other animals have been illegally poached simply for matters of economic gain. Some of the products being distributed include Asian medicines, wall hangings, trinkets, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, statues and more. All of this junk takes the lives of the innocent big cats and other wildlife.
The Obama Administration finally announced a plan recently to help crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking. American intelligence agency power will be utilized toward this end. They will be used to help locate those who are profiting from the illegal trade.
Besides our President calling this huge issue an “international crisis,” Prince William has also come out publicly condemning illegal wildlife trafficking. According to the Prince, it “…erodes the rule of law, fuels conflict and may even fund terrorism.”
The ugly truth of the matter is that when people from anywhere purchase certain products, they are just contributing to the merciless killing. They are aiding invasive species and diseases to spread around the world; supporting the actions of criminal networks that threaten the security of many nations.
All is not hopeless though. According to Jennifer Sevin, the President of Youth Environmental Programs, Incorporated, “There are innovative tools and techniques being implemented, such as those highlighted in this exhibit, by agencies and organizations tirelessly working to combat this illicit practice. We hope that visitors of the exhibit help reduce the demand and take action to stop wildlife trafficking.”
Please take time to visit the Crime Museum during the months of June, 2015 through February, 2016. You and others will have the distinct opportunity to see if you are one of the individuals contributing to the issue. Find out how you are able to help.
For additional information, visit www.crimemuseum.org or follow the museum on Facebook and Twitter. Please help the big cats get back on their feet; don’t let them perish in vain!