I knew wildlife trafficking was a problem, but I didn’t realize just how much of a problem until I read this article by Charles Bergman in the November 2009 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.
According to Bergman and NGOs like the Coalitions Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), animals stolen from their natural habitats and sold on the international black market represent a $10 billion business. Traffickers poach and then sell animals for food, medicine, pets, religious rituals, and private collections.
The threat of wildlife trafficking isn’t just species depletion or even eventual extinction. When animals are removed from their natural habitats, their absence disrupts the local ecosystem, and their introduction into a new environment results in problems related to non-native and invasive species.
Here are a few animals–from pocket sized to portly– prized by wildlife traffickers. Captions include text from Bergman’s article, as well as statistics from CAWT and TRAFFIC.