Unprotected wildlife is imported into the United States at an 11 times greater rate than protected animals

Este Kotze / AP

Global demand for exotic pets increasinga trend caused in part by social media and the shift from physical pet stores to Online Markets.

United State One of the biggest Wildlife Trade Markets. and us new search It identified a staggering number of wild animals that are not regulated and brought into the United States – an average of 11 times greater than those regulated and protected under the relevant global convention.

People also read…

The wildlife trade can have significant negative consequences. Can threatened Wild collections from which animals and plants are harvested, and a new introduction Invasive species to new environments. It can also lead to diseases It is transmitted from wildlife to humans and threatens Good of the animals that are trafficked.

Addressing this problem requires an international effort – particularly by wealthy nations where the demand for exotic pets is greatest.

An owl perched on a piece of fake grass next to a chair and a yellow vineThe global demand for exotic pets is increasing. Pictured: a banned eagle owl being kept as a pet in Indonesia. Mast Arham / Environmental Protection Agency.

Spotlight on the pet market

Most of the live animals transported through the wildlife trade are destined for the multi-billion dollar global exotic pet market. Breeding in captivity provides a portion of this market, but many species are collected from the wild – often illegally.

animals like ottersAnd the slow lorises and galagos or ‘popshapes“Often portrayed on social media as cute and with human-like feelings and behaviours. This helps create demand for species such as pets which leads to the illegal and legal trade in wildlife.

Non-domestic animals are frequently smuggled in Australia In the past they included the corn snake, the tiger gecko, and the red-eared turtle. Reptiles and birds are some of the most trafficked species because they can be easily transported.

Species considered to be at risk from international trade are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Sites). It aims to ensure sustainable and traceable legal international trade.

but the Agreement Lists Less than 10% of all described terrestrial plants and vertebrates, and less than 1% of all fish and invertebrate species. There is no international regulatory framework to control the trade of many non-listed species.

Read more: Before clicking Share on that cute animal picture, consider the damage it can cause

Australia has strict regulations for exotic pet ownership and trade. On a large scale, our native wildlife cannot be exported commercially.

However, the animals in Australia boiled from the wild It is illegally exported to the international pet market. Once the animal is smuggled out of Australia, it becomes Trade in recipient countries It is often not monitored or restricted.

for example, Research Last year, he showed four subspecies of the one-back lizard in Australia – one of them Endangered It has been illegally extracted from the wild and smuggled out of the country for sale throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

This lack of external organization prompted the previous Morrison government to press for it 127 species of native reptiles Targeted by international wildlife smugglers for inclusion on the CITES List. They include blue tongue skins and many species of gecko.

But in the meantime, the illegal global trade in wildlife continues. Our new research analyzed the extent of this, by focusing on the movement of non-listed species to and from the United States.

An otter in a blue cage is for sale on social mediaThe otter is sold via Instagram in Indonesia. Instagram

what we found

The United States is one of the few countries that keeps detailed records of all declared trade in wildlife, including species not listed on CITES.

We are testing A decade of data on live, wild-harvested vertebrates entering the United States. Most of them were going into the pet trade. We found 3.6 times as many unincorporated species in US imports as compared to CITES-listed species – 1,356 versus 378.

In all, 8.84 million animals of unlisted species were imported – about 11 times more than animals of species listed in CITES. More than a quarter of unlisted species face conservation threats – including those that are declining in numbers and those that are endangered.

For example, we found a great trade for unlisted Asian water dragon. These bright green lizards are native to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and southern China, and are considered vulnerable.

In the decade to 2018, more than 575,000 Asian water dragons were imported into the United States from Vietnam. species were proposed for inclusion in CITES. But decades of unregulated global trade pose a major threat to the survival of the indigenous population.

Read more: A lizard in your luggage? We use artificial intelligence to detect wildlife trafficking

Green lizard on a branch in the forestUnregulated global trade threatens the wild populations of the Asian water dragon. wikimedia

How can we solve this problem?

Our study highlights the urgent need to monitor all types of traded wildlife, not just those listed under CITES.

The biodiversity of life on Earth is under tremendous pressure. Given this, and other harms caused by the wildlife trade, this lack of regulation and monitoring is unacceptable.

In order for the species to be considered for CITES inclusion, the national government must demonstrate that regulation is necessary to prevent trade-related declines. But if trade in a species has never been monitored, how can it be proven?

Unfortunately, the trade of many species is not officially regulated until it is too late for their wild populations. Clearly, stricter regulation is needed to prevent this decline.

over hereA radioactive endangered turtle recovers from the capture of wildlife smugglers in Madagascar. Wildlife Conservation Society / AP

wild animal trade mostly flowing From low-income countries to high-income countries. Many source countries do not have the necessary frameworks to monitor the harvest and export of unlisted species.

So what should be done? First, all countries should follow the US’s lead and record species-level data for all imported and exported wild animals. This information should be collected as part of a standard data management system.

Such a system would increase compliance with the rules and make it easier to trace the origin of wildlife. It will allow trade data to be shared and integrated between countries and allow for the timely assessment of species that may need further protection.

And second, rich countries – where the demand for exotic pets is greatest – must take the lead in sustainable trade practices. This should include supporting supplying countries and lobbying for better data collection.

These measures are vital to the protection of wildlife and human well-being.

Freyja Watters receives funding from the University of Adelaide Graduate Research Scholarship.

Phill Cassey receives funding from the Australian Research Council and the Center for Invasive Species Solutions.

This article has been republished from Conversation Under a Creative Commons License.

Leave a Comment