Lion, jaguar and leopard body parts are now being increasingly sought as substitutes to tiger parts by traffickers, a significant UN report has found, but demand for ivory as well as rhino horn has indicated signs of a continuous fall.
Wildlife trafficking continues to pose a significant threat to nature, global biodiversity and also human health, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned, following an analysis of trends in the illegal wildlife trade.
The Rising living standards in Asia have continued to push demand for illegal plants and wildlife products such asproducts made from leopard body parts, with criminal groups increasingly using social media platforms to market illicit goods, based on the second World Wildlife Crime Report, the most comprehensive analysis of criminal trends available.
The report discovered that plummeting pangolin populations in Asia has made west and central Africa the center of this illicit trade for the most trafficked animal in the world, whose scales are generally utilized in traditional medicine in China and Vietnam.
The report revealed signs of a “sharp decline” in multi-million dollar markets for ivory and rhino horn, recording falls in the price paid to poachers in Africa. As a result of several large tusk and horn seizures in 2019, provisional data indicates it will likely be a record year, reflecting increased domestic restrictions on the trade in parts of Africa and Asia.
The analysis of seizure data from 149 countries as well as territories over the past 2 decades has revealed the scale of diversity of this global wildlife trafficking, describing trends in markets for illicit rosewood, ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, live reptiles, big cats and also European eel.
Angela Me, the head of research and trend analysis for the UNODC, said high demand for wildlife and wildlife products in Asia must not distract from the fact that the issue affects all parts of the planet.
“You need to keep in mind that the greatest demand for everything is in Asia because Asia is the most populous continent,” she said. “What you’ve that is striking in Asia is increasingly people are now able to buy items that they probably could not buy before.
“But we must not have this idea that it does not touch all of us. For over 50 % of the commodities, they start from an illicit source because they’re poached and then trafficked, but ultimately they’re going to the licit market.
“For example, with reptile skins, they begin in Malaysia and they are illegally poached, but then they go in to the supply chain of luxurious bags, shoes. Everybody in the world might be wearing something which happens to be illegally supplied.”