The second largest black market is the global trade of rare wildlife. It’s estimated that this illegal business generates profits of $10 to $20 billion dollars in the United States alone.
In addition to live creatures, animal smuggling includes the meat of endangered species for culinary delicacies (such as pangolin flesh), organs for medicinal purposes, and coveted exotic products (like tiger fur and elephant ivory).
Consider these recent global headlines:
Man Caught at Airport with 44 Lizards in Pants (Associated Press)
Unbelievable, but true. This man managed to board an international flight with 44 geckos and skinks squirming inside a sewn package tucked into his underwear. And his reason for sneaking the species overseas? Because each of the exotic geckos are worth as much as 2,000 euros ($2,800 U.S. dollars) in the European black market.
Thousands of Rare Turtles, Snakes Seized at Jakarta Airport (Tempo Interactive)
Concealed under the guise of “snake fruit,” a popular Asian delicacy, smugglers attempted to sneak 3,400 pig-nosed turtles and approximately 700 rat snakes into Hong Kong. Customs officials confiscated the animals at the Soekarno Hatta Airport, but were unsuccessful in arresting the wildlife smugglers.
Cameroon Police Seize 700 Parrots at Airport (Google News)
Stuffed inside 14 crates, 700 tropical parrots were found in crates at a Cameroon airport moments before they were loaded onto an airplane. Local officials reported that many of the parrots were already dead by the time they were discovered.
The black market trade of animals is contributing to the rapid decline of rare wildlife species, such as the African elephant and Bengal tiger. To learn more about animal smuggling, visit this United States government resource and discover how organizations – such as the World Wildlife Fund – are addressing these crimes.
Find out how the illegal trade of tiger body parts is wiping out the species: