Animals Close up of tiger in the snow for article about China appetite for endangered species

Published on November 25th, 2011 | by Rhishja Cota-Larson

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Creative Experts Meet to Devise Plans for Stopping Illegal Trade in Tigers, Rhinos & Other Endangered Species

November 25th, 2011 by

Earlier this week, more than 20 participants from diverse areas – including advertising, public health, and wildlife trade – met at a workshop in Hong Kong to discuss strategies for reducing the demand for products made from endangered species.

The seemingly inescapable appetite for endangered species is driven by the economic boom in countries such as China and Vietnam, where demand has fueled an alarming increase in the illegal wildlife trade, causing a drastic decline in the populations of tigers, rhinos, elephants, pangolins, sharks, marine turtles, and others.

For example, the wild tiger population has been decimated to just 3,200 worldwide, and two species of rhino (Javan rhino and Western black rhino) were declared extinct this year.

Steven Broad, Executive Director of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, explained that the meeting addressed how to approach various consumer audiences, i.e., businessmen, high-level government officials, youth and local village communities.

Efforts now really need to focus in on the underlying social motivations that drive people to buy these products—whether it is as a symbol to show off their success or social status, or as a gift to impress their peers or business partners.

Clearly, a multi-layered strategy and diverse set of actions is needed to influence some very different motivations and groups of people. Reducing demand for endangered species cannot have a one-size-fits-all solution.

The workshop was made possible with funding from the WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, and the results will be compiled into a strategic document to support national and international efforts to curb demand for wildlife products.

Participants included representatives from the World Bank, Bloom Association, Ogilvy and Mather, Tribal DDB, the Global Tiger Forum, Wilkes University, The Guardian, Social Science Research Council Vietnam (SSRC) and the Biodiversity Conservation Agency of the Ministry of Environment, Vietnam, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), TRAFFIC and WWF.

Opposition

Unfortunately, the illegal wildlife trade is big business, and efforts to reduce demand for endangered species could be met with opposition from suppliers.

In China, illegal “tiger farms” have proliferated under the guise of conservation, when in fact, they are catering to the continued demand for “tiger bone wine” and superstition-based medicinal products derived from tiger penises and other body parts.

China has also invested millions of dollars into a similar scheme to “farm” rhinos for their horn, rather than inform misguided consumers that rhino horn actually contains no medicinal properties.

And in South Africa, a group of rhino ranchers and their henchmen are attempting to gather support for a “legalized” rhino horn trade, which they believe would allow them to cash in on the medicinal myths of rhino horn.

However, it was recently suggested that a main supporter of “legalized” rhino horn trade has ties to a South African media organization, which may help explain why the notion has received recent attention.

(Major international conservation groups including Humane Society International and Care for the Wild International are not supportive of a “legal” trade in rhino horn; more information can be found here. See also Concern Grows Around Role of Rhino Horn ‘Suppliers’ in South Africa.)

Photo #1 Tiger close up via Shutterstock; photo #2 Tiger and other skins via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. Rhishja has journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. At CITES CoP16 in Bangkok, she joined colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species from economic exploitation. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys gardening, reading, designing, and rocking out to live music.



  • robin

    We need to explain to the Chinese that no animals penis or bone will make their penis work better.
    Maybe we can fight this immoral slaughter of endangered animals by giving away Viagra & Cialis to all the men that want better erections? That would take care of part of the demand….

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  • suheyla caliskan

    I condemn hate wearing fur. How can this be a woman. The killing of an animal. Adeath benefit to be beautiful.

  • suheyla caliskan

    I condemn hate wearing fur. How can this be a woman. The killing of an animal. Adeath benefit to be beautiful.

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  • Terri Hughes

    PLEASE STOP KILLING THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS BEFORE THEY BECOME EXTINCT!!!!!!!!!

  • Selene Rossi

    Signed

  • http://www.nikela.org Wildlife Margrit

    Thanks Rhishja for a comprehensive report on what’s happening and why in the struggle to stop wildlife trafficking. Somehow it’s always about the money, isn’t it? We just have to “follow the money” and we find the root of an issue like this.

  • Sonja Rowland

    God, they are so precious! And we have already madeomany species extinct!
    Isn’t it time to put a stop to this madness?!
    I’m not a clairvoyant but I know that we’ll be sorry when we casn’t make the damage undone!

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