The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is the ‘Illegal trade in wildlife’ which is a threat to the world’s wildlife and encapsulates flora and fauna together.
Pangolins, birds, rhinos, tigers, otters and other species are under constant threat due to illegal wildlife operations. The decline in a particular species impacts the ecosystem in an area. Species are interlinked in ways the human mind may never envisage.
The species under threat in India comprise, Pangolins who act as natural pest controllers, One-horned Rhinos who serve as seed dispersers, tigers who control the population of herbivores and other species who play numerous roles in the ecosystem, as well.
Animals are traded and poached for ivory, leather, medicine and other products, whereas plants are mostly traded for timber and medicinal purposes. These products harbor economic and cultural value.
Certain species perform ecosystem services which are difficult to replace if they become extinct. The story of the Dodo bird and the Calvaria tree reflects this. A few years ago it was noticed that for many centuries there were no new Calvaria trees growing on the Mauritius Island where the now extinct Dodo bird was once found. It was discovered years later that the Dodo bird facilitated germination of the tree by its unique digestive process. Thereby, the impact of the extinction of a single species on an ecosystem is evident. The Dodo birds’ extinction was facilitated by human intervention and sets an example to reflect on the possible consequences of our actions.
There are a range of organizations working on tackling the problem of illegal wildlife trade which include WWF, TRAFFIC, Conservation International and Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) among many others.
Illegal wildlife trade is a threat to natures balance, as it may lead to the extinction of innumerable species and will hamper the resilience of the ecosystem as well. Animals and plants are exploited in order to facilitate this trade.
Let’s support the UN campaign and go #WildforLife.
The link to a map on illegal wildlife trade hotspots in India by (WPSI) is here below.