The illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion dollar business. Much of it entails endangered exotic species in countries like Brazil and Malaysia so many Europeans may think that it is a problem that only affects other parts of the world but not the continent itself.
That isn’t the case. A clandestine trade in endangered species continues to thrive in Europe, where many hobbyists are willing to shell out large sums of money to own live specimens of rare animals or else the parts of dead animals. In fact, European officials can even put price tags on many of these items on sale in Portugal.
After monitoring the illegal wildlife trade online in the country, the Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE) have found that a 2.3kg elephant tusk sold for €1,500; another three elephant tusks, between 1kg and 4kg, did so for €2,850 in all; and a large 13kg one for €6,000. Meanwhile, a baby elephant leg was offered for sale for €850 and a hippopotamus tooth for €125.
Portugal, thanks to its proximity to Africa, is the main point of entry for most illegally smuggled wildlife parts into Europe, says ASAE, whose researchers discovered a whopping total of 11,772 live animals or their body parts on sale online over a six-week period in the UK, France, Germany and Russia.
A thriving European black market trade in elephant ivory is helping drive African elephants closer to the edge of extinction. Numerous other endangered species, too, are bearing the brunt of unceasing demand for their parts in Europe and elsewhere.
In Peru with its biodiverse cornucopia of exotic species, for instance, 186 species of animals are now in danger of extinction, including 64 critically endangered species, according to the newly launched “Red Book of the Endangered Wildlife of Peru,” which was meticulously compiled by the South American nation’s National Forest Service and Wildlife. Another 203 local animal species are listed as vulnerable owing to a steady decline in their population numbers over the years. Peru’s 389 threatened species include 120 amphibians, 122 birds, 23 invertebrates, 92 mammals and 32 reptiles.