Consuming Our Way to Extinction – Rare & Exotic Animal Trade
September 23, 2022
The native people of Laos, China and other Asian nations have taken advantage of the new road intrastructure to escalate the demise of jungle creatures big and small. Their partners in “crimes” against nature are European nations and the USA consumers the buy and consume or wear the harvested black market bushmeats and products in large quantities.
According to United Nations, global trade in frog meat has soared in the past 20 years. France and the United States are the two largest importers, with France importing between 2,500 and 4,000 tons each year since 1995. Indonesia exports more than 5,000 tons annually, mostly to Europe. Frogs’ legs are also very popular in Asian cuisine.
Until twenty-five years ago, hundreds of tigers roamed large swaths of relatively untouched jungle in Laos. But in recent years particularly in the last decade development, deforestation, and a booming traffic in wildlife have reduced Laotian tiger population to 50 or fewer individuals, according to Johnson and other scientists. The main driver of the rapid depletion of tigers and scores of other species of birds, animals, and reptiles is the growing affluence of neighboring Thailand, Vietnam, and especially China, where a vast new market for wildlife products has arisen.
Laos is the latest front in the struggle to rein in an underground global trade that every year kills tens of millions of wild birds, mammals, and reptiles to supply multi-billion dollar markets around the world.
The U.S. and Europe rank among the largest buyers of elephant ivory and tiger parts and frog, monkey and game animal (commonly referred to as bushmeat.) along with the exotic pet/medicine trade takes a heavy toll on wildlife not just in Laos, but around the world in Southeast Asia, the Russian Far East, Africa, and even North America.
A rapid development and growing affluence create demand for more commercial hunting and trapping; an increase in international trade; the emergence of increasingly sophisticated smuggling networks; an influx of weapons and technology; and easier access to wilderness areas because of road building by extractive industries. The opening of the Laotian economy like other native economies around the world, put a price on the heads of virtually all animals, ranging from river insects to tigers.
Overexploitation of wildlife for trade, must be addressed in a respectful sensitive, effective and fair honest manner for local people. This is a great delicate educational and economic challenge that has the potential to open the way outside investment that has recently become a flood. Like other forest-dependent people, rural Lao long relied on hunting to supplement their rice-dominated diet with protein. But the opening of the economy put a price on the heads of virtually all animals, ranging from river insects to tigers. This along with the lack of wildlife education and preservation, combined with an abundance of left over weapons from years of war, gave hunters the incentive and the tools to convert rich biodiversity into cash.
This scenario has been repeated around the world many times a day and the result both on land, sea and in the air are world has become poorer as these animals, plants, insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians go silent because we have chosen this consumer mentality, but we can make and are making better choices.
Everyone can help.
Refuse to buy, eat or wear products or use cosmetics made from wild animals at the expense of the biodiversity of our beloved planet.