New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Standing tall at $20 billion annually and still growing, the wildlife trafficking has become the world’s fourth largest illicit trade, said World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on Saturday — the Global Tiger Day.
The WWF has urged the tiger-range governments, thirteen countries including India, to strengthen anti-poaching efforts and crack down on a severe wildlife snaring crisis that is threatening wildlife across Asia.
At present, India holds over 70 per cent of the world’s free ranging tiger population and the global free ranging or the wild tigers are estimated to be around 3,900.
WWF pointed out that 2016 had been catastrophic for the tigers in India as poaching reached an all time high.
“Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to reach $20 billion per year, which makes wildlife trafficking the world’s fourth largest illicit trade, after narcotics, human trafficking and trade in counterfeit goods,” a WWF statement said.
The IANS managed to piece together information from different independent sources to know that at least 129 tigers and 419 leopards died in 2016 as compared to 91 tigers and 397 leopards in 2015. Of these, at least 50 tigers and 127 leopards were poached, a record in the last 10 years.
The WWF pointed out that easy to make from widely available material such as bicycle cable wires and quick to set up, wire snares are deadly traps that are fast becoming the plague of Asia’s forests.
“Snares are dangerous, insidious and quickly becoming a major contributor to the wave of extinction that is spreading throughout Southeast Asia — and tigers are being swept up in this crisis. All efforts to recover wild tigers are now imperiled by snaring on a massive scale,” said Mike Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tigers Alive.
According to WWF, it’s impossible to know how many snares are being set up every day and threatening wildlife in critical habitats.
“Hundreds of thousands of deadly snares are removed by rangers from Asia’s protected areas annually, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Rohit Singh, wildlife law enforcement expert at WWF.
WWF further said that within the tropical rain forest heritage of Sumatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, snare traps are estimated to have doubled between 2006 and 2014, suggesting a higher number of poachers in the area.
“Yet, many of such critical habitats lack adequate resources for protection. In nearly Rimbang Baling, one of several protected areas in Sumatra, only 26 rangers patrol over 1,400 square kilometres, an area equivalent to nearly twice the size of New York City,” WWF pointed out.