#WorldEnvironmentDay2016: Protecting the Endangered

“The world has enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

The above adage is a cut out for the human beings. How moribund the world would become if human beings would be the only existing species on this planet! Well, it’s no exaggeration but a potential reality owing to human’s cruelty to animals. The heedless poaching of animals is gradually plundering the ecosystem. Fortunately, there are some considerate individuals and organizations who realize that world would be a better place only if all creatures could co-exist. The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) has dedicated a special theme for this year’s World Environment Day (June 5th, 2016), – “Fight against the illegal trade in wildlife”, which is a step forward in the direction of working for the rights of animals. UNEP 2016 report says that about four million live birds, 640,000 live reptiles and 350 million tropical fishes are illegally traded throughout the world, each year. This $23 billion industry (Interpol) is a cause of worry for the UNEP and hence the 2016 Environment Day is exclusively dedicated to highlight its Zero Tolerance policy against illegal wildlife trading.


As illustrated, the situation is quite grim especially for the ‘lucrative’ animals. UN News Centre says that between 2010 and 2012, around 1,00,000 elephants were killed in Africa for their ivory. Three rhinos are killed every day and chimpanzees have become extinct in some parts of the African continent. Pangolins are the most illegally traded mammals in the world.


India is renowned throughout the world for its flora and fauna. The rampant wildlife deterioration in India throws light on the importance of this year’s Environment Day theme for our nation. This January, around 150 Olive Ridley Turtles were found dead on the shores of Orissa. They are smuggled to fulfil the demand for calipee (i.e. the dried cartilaginous layer in the turtle’s lower shell), which is used in traditional Chinese Medicines.

What’s more shameful is the dwindling population of our National animal! In the entire 2015, 25 of the endangered tigers had been poached or seized, whereas in 2016, till April, at least 28 tigers have already been poached. (data released by Wildlife Protection Society of India)

The woes of brutal killings do not end here. About 3,500 pangolins are boiled alive in India every year to separate them from their skin which is used for making bags costing Rs 2 lakh per bag. (and about 10,000 worldwide, according to 2014 data from the UK-based NGO Environmental Investigation Agency). The list of animals traded for materialistic pleasures is endless but the campaigns and efforts for the protection for wildlife provide some respite.


“Go Wild for Life” is the slogan of the World Environment Day 2016. The dynamic slogan aims at highlighting and bringing to everyone’s notice, the need to safeguard the endangered species. Adding glam quotient to this campaign are actors Ian Somerhalder and Brazilian Supermodel Gisele Bundchen. The campaign also asks you to find your kindred species and use their own sphere of influence to end the illegal trade.


Following the model of Kenya, which recently burnt 150kg of ivory to send signals of zero tolerance towards killings, Karnataka is all set to follow the suit. The biggest trader of ivory in India, Karnataka has decided to conduct ivory bonfire as a mark of protest. This could indeed send out a strong message to the poachers.


Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) director tied up with e-commerce firms like Amazon, OLX, Quikr, Snapdeal to combat illegal wildlife trade through e-commerce websites. WCCB sources say that there have been instances wherein thousands of painted glass fish, dried seahorses, dried fish bladders, butterflies, and scorpions are exported illegally through the courier companies. The e-traders agreed to cooperate completely in detecting any form of illegal trading on their portal. They even asked WCCB to supply a list of wildlife contrabands, which are prohibited for trade so that they could stay alerted.


Despite good initiatives undertaken, the world poaching levels are still steadily on rise. This is attributed to a variety of reasons. A recent WWF Study claims that wildlife rangers believe they lack the necessary equipment, training and support from the government to protect themselves and animals from poachers. There is a dearth of specialised ranger training centres throughout the world. But more than training, they deserve improved conditions of employment and a greater recognition for their work. A separate WWF Ranger insurance study of 33 countries across the globe revealed that despite the dangers of their jobs, many rangers lack health insurance (18%) and life insurance (36%).A job as noble as this needs to address the concerns of wildlife rangers, on priority.

Behavioural change, which generates compassion among people, stronger laws and a tighter enforcement, are required to burst this nexus of an organized transnational crime. It’s time we all start doing our bit by saying a big NO to all kinds of animal products. Let’s go wild for life!

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