Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Since my early childhood, I had this greatest fascination for nature, its beauty and natural images (3)habitat. This duly propelled my study and exposure in Environmental studies. However, my growing interest for wildlife became substantial since my recent field visit to National Parks of Western Nepal. Coincidentally, this year’s theme for World Environment Day is “Go Wild for Life”.

There is no doubt  that wildlife is mother nature’s greatest treasure which not only helps in maintaining the ecological balance but it also sum up the economic, recreational and aesthetic value. As human population has grown, the subsequent expansion in agriculture area, settlement area and development activities have led to decrease in wildlife and its habitat. The greedy men for one’s pleasure and access to variety of sea foods, leather goods, timbers, medicinal ingredients and textiles have played vital role in its booming illegal trade in wildlife products and eroding earth’s precious biodiversity.

It seems to be likes ages when human impedance was minimum and wildlife was maximum resulting in no issues with respect to conservation and wildlife protection. At present, this scenario seems to be quite a distant dream to achieve.

In Nepal, poaching and illicit trade of wildlife, particularly comprising Asian big cats, and horn of one horned Rhinoceros has been a major concern. In response to which NTNC, WWF and other organizations with the help of Nepalese Government is taking major initiative to close down trade routes and transit markets  for illegal wildlife by including improved stronger policies, awareness campaigns, investments in community conservation and law enforcement have  definitely drawn some silver linings. As a result, anti-poaching units (APUs) were formed in Chitwan National Park (CNP) and Bardia National Park (BNP) to reduce the level of poaching of tigers and rhinos. Nepal is also signatory and party to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and had in place all legal and institutional instruments to address wildlife trade issues.

But, let me highlight the issues of wildlife trade goes beyond the border of one single country. Hence, it is very important to have effective cross border cooperation and collaboration which will slow the issues in coming days.

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade now more than ever, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. In 2011, ivory estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons was seized in the 13 largest seizures of illegal ivory. Poaching definitely threatens the last of our wild tigers that just numbers around 3,890. Nevertheless, Nepal has also been influenced by this booming market. Corruption, toothless laws, weak judicial systems and light sentence have reverberation on illegal trades which ultimately threatens our endangered flora and fauna.

The more I ponder on the current scenario, the more frustrated I become as I our skills, knowledge, equipments and power all draining. Every day, we hear more and more crime stories and it may cause possible extinction of the wild life in near future. We are responsible to change the situation in coming days with changing the habit of our choices. Obviously, we know that poaching is senseless activity fueled by greed. And today’s poaching is escalating throughout the world and illegal trade supports the poacher’s activities. As a result of these crimes, not only are the animals and plants in peril but has created huge ecological imbalance.

Let’s celebrate this year theme, by being part of Campaign on June 5 to end the illegal trade in wildlife. We should create our own reality through the choices by encouraging people to change their habit and behaviors so that the demand for illegal wildlife products falls. Let’s put wildlife in our hearts and its future in our hands. More awareness and action should be pushed from the grassroots level so that they can safeguard the species for future generations. Whoever you are, whatever you do and wherever you live, show zero-tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife in word and deed, and make a difference.

– Pratistha Thapa



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