Why we trade wildlife

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. And it seeks to answer why wildlife is traded. Here’s a list of the some of the many reasons.

Food – fruit, mushrooms, nuts, leaves and tubers are particularly important resources in sustaining livelihoods in many rural areas. Wild animals (including fish) contribute at least a fifth of the animal protein in rural diets in more than 60 countries. A TRAFFIC study demonstrated that reliance on wild meat is growing in Eastern and Southern Africa in response to increased human populations and poverty.

Fuel – trees and plants are an important source of fuel for cooking and heating, especially in rural areas.

Animal fodder – is considered a very important non-wood forest product in arid regions of Asia and Africa.

Building materials – timber for furniture and house building, ingredients in manufacturing processes, such as gums and resins.

Healthcare – everything from herbal remedies and traditional medicines to ingredients for industrial pharmaceuticals. An estimated 80 per cent of the world’s population rely on traditional medicines for primary health care.

Clothing and ornaments – leather, furs, feathers, perfumes, jewellery and more.

Pets – everything from apes and parrots to tortoises and tropical fish.

Sport – from falconry to trophy hunting – especially big cats and elephants.

Collections – many wildlife specimens and curios are collected by museums and private individuals. Think birds eggs and butterflies, amongst many.

Religion – many animals and plants or derivatives are used for religious purposes.

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