Skip to main content

Terrorism, fashion and Illegal animal trafficking

Illegal animal trade Photograph: (Others)

Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Oct 04, 2017, 10.43 AM (IST) Srishti Singh Sisodia

Even after implementing international laws and regulations, animal trafficking is continuously increasing. Illegal trade of wild animals is a very lucrative business. Tiger, elephant, and rhino, leopard, lizard, marine turtles, and pangolins, as well as, many species of snakes are poached for animal parts, such as ivory, horn, teeth, venom, skin, scales and bone.

Wildlife trafficking is popular in regions like South Africa, Europe, China, Japan. Smuggling is not limited to living animals but even carcass are very important in many ways, such as skins tissues, bones or meat. It is sold at considerably high prices.

The rhino horn is used to create valuable carvings and, also, traditional medicines in China (Others)


South Africa has the largest population of rhinos in the world, also, stands at number one when it comes to the hunting and killing of rhinos. Till 2014, the recorded number of rhinos poached in South Africa increased continuously.

In 2010, it was 333 and in 2014 it raised to 1215. This immense rate advocates utmost importance to conserve these extremely endangered species. The rhino horns are exported mostly to China and Vietnam. It is used to create valuable carvings and is also used in traditional medicines. 

Areas like Kruger National Park (South Africa) and parts of Mozambique experienced most illegal poaching in past few decades. The government has taken additional measures to strengthen security that showed a dip in rhino deaths in the year 2015 and 2016. Even after the decline in poaching, 1054 Rhinos died in 2016. 

Recently, the High Courts of South Africa said that they will make rhino horn trade legal within the country, that may worsen the crisis situation.

Same as rhino horns, elephant tusks are also smuggled from eastern Africa to Asia. Poachers nowadays are highly equipped. They use night vision goggles, automatic weapons and chainsaws to kill rhinos and elephants. After killing them they quickly remove the horns and tusks.

The African elephants are continuously wiped out as terrorist groups of South Africa are also dealing illegally in elephant tusks to buy arms and ammunition. Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab in Somalia, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa and Boko Haram in Nigeria involved majorly in ivory trafficking.

Also Read: How women are protecting wildlife in South Africa

Ivory is sold at an average of $850 per kilo.

Snakeskin business is very popular in the fashion industry. It is used in making shoes, belts, purses etc (Others)


Snakeskin business is very popular in the fashion industry, as it is a source of pure leather. Annually, half a million python skins are exported legally from south-east Asia in a trade worth $1 billion that is almost equal to illegal trade figures.

Along with snakeskin, alligator and crocodile skins are also very popular among fashion brands. The Paris based company "Kering", that is behind big luxury brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen etc, has built its own python farm in Thailand to avoid illicit trade of python skin. They provide a healthy environment to farm snakes and focuses on the sustainable source of snakeskin. But monitoring and tracking of wild python skin trade still have insufficient control.

Pangolin fetuses, scales, and blood are used in traditional medicine (Others)


Along with rhino, elephants and python, pangolins are famous among fauna smugglers. Pangolin, a small-headed, thick-tailed mammal, covered with tough overlapping scales. These scales are made up of keratin.

With growing population of China, the demand for traditional medicines also increased. Pangolin fetuses, scales, and blood are used in traditional medicine. The meat is considered as a delicacy and stuffed pangolins are sold as souvenirs. This continuous rising demand of pangolins is forcing these endangered animals closer to extinction.

On an average, 1 kilogram of pangolin scales is available at $3000.

Despite giving several laws by CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), hunting, killing and black marketing of endangered species is prospering at a very alarming rate. Despite being a member of CITES, China has permitted pangolin consumption to respect their medicinal traditions.

Srishti Singh Sisodia

Srishti Singh Sisodia is digital journalist at WION. She has been a college-level football and cricket player. When not working or playing matches, she watches movies.

Show Comments
  • delete