Animal Products : The Illegal Trade
In addition to deforestation and other forms of habitat destruction that threaten animals worldwide, the illegal trade in wild animal products poses critical threats to endangered species.
Bushmeat, skins, teeth, ornaments from hawksbill sea turtles, rhino-horn knife handles and animal parts for medicinal markets reduce populations of many endangered species. This trade, most of which is driven by superstition and pseudoscience, is dominated by what is called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In addition to China, however, TCM is practiced in Korea, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, some of the products used in TCM are:
• Tiger bone for arthritis and other joint ailments.
• Rhino horn to treat fever.
• Musk deer musk for promoting circulation.
• Bile from bear gall-bladders to treat inflammation.
Many traditional Asian medical practitioners now reject the use of these items, but the highly profitable illegal trade in animal parts continues.
CITES: An International Agreement
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an agreement between many nations. Its goal is to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of these species.