Right now, there’s a world war against wildlife taking place. More specifically, the large animals in Africa are being targeted for their body parts. 100,000 african elephants were slaughtered between 2010 and 2013 for their ivory tusks. Most of this ivory is illegally sold in Asia as ornaments, bangles and statuettes. Most people aren’t aware that when you buy ivory, that ivory is coming from a dead elephant. Rhino’s are facing a similar plight. 1004 African rhinos were illegally poached in South Africa alone for their horns in 2013 which can fetch up to $70,000USD on the black market. To give you an idea about how the trade has grown exponentially, that’s up from just 13 killed rhinos in 2007 according to the country’s environment ministry. Rhino horn is coveted for it’s fabled ‘medicinal qualities’ and is falsely claimed to be a remedy for everything from fevers to cancer in countries such as Vietnam. Needless to say, rhino horn has no scientific medicinal qualities whatsoever and there is no known benefit to man. And yet the killing is so rampant that, on av¬erage, a wild rhino is getting killed every five hours in Africa. At the current rate of killing, it is estimated that black rhino will go extinct in 15 years.
We in Asia must take the lion share of the responsibility, as most of the demand originates here. And elephants and rhinos are just the tip of the iceberg. Animals all of shapes and sizes, even the tiny pangolin, are being targeted in a trade now only second in size to the illicit narcotics trade (some estimates value the endangered wildlife trade to be worth USD 29 billion). Even lions are dwindling in numbers due to hunting and habitat encroachment. Some reports say that just 20,000 remain in the wild.