What’s scarier than the goriest slasher film? How about a stuffed tiger fetus? Or what about 45,000 dead seahorses — dried, wrapped in plastic and sitting in a cavernous warehouse full of seized illegal wildlife products?
Frighteningly enough, both – and even worse - can be found at the National Wildlife Property Repository just outside of Denver.
Coleen Schaefer, Supervisory Wildlife Repository Specialist runs the repository for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, providing tours to bring the grim reality of the thousands of animal products trafficked in the U.S. annually. The 22,000-square-foot facility is filled to the rafters with tiger skins, ivory tusks and trinkets, traditional Chinese medicines made from rhino horn and various parts from endangered species.
International wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $10-20 billion per year annually, making it one of the world’s largest illicit trades after illegal drugs, arms and human trafficking. The United States is a chief consumer of wildlife products (both legal and illegal), but a recent poll commissioned by WildAid found 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about illegal wildlife trade within the United States. As a result, travelers often are unaware that products they bring into the United States are prohibited.
WildAid is proud to be an NGO member of the new United States Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, announced by the White House on Wednesday.
This partnership has three primary objectives:
Raise the public’s awareness of the scope of the wildlife trafficking crisis, including the illegal trade’s devastating impact on elephants, rhinos, tigers and other irreplaceable species, and illegal traffickers’ role in funding global corruption and terrorism;
Reduce consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products (WildAid’s core organizational mission); and
Mobilize companies to adopt best practices to insure that their goods and services are not being utilized by illegal wildlife traffickers, and to assist in raising public awareness and reducing demand.
Denver Nuggets star and one of the hottest young NBA players, Carmelo Anthony gives endangered animals a voice by starring in a new WildAid public service announcement to raise awareness of the illegal demand for endangered species parts and products. The illegal wildlife trade, now estimated by Interpol to be worth $10 to 20 billion a year, has drastically reduced numerous wildlife populations and has some teetering on the brink of extinction – all because of growing consumer demand.
Chinese police have seized hundreds of bear paws and dead pangolins smuggled into China where they are prized as an expensive culinary delicacy with uses in traditional medicine.
Police made 20 arrests in a smuggling ring in the south-western province of Yunnan, seizing 278 bear paws and 416 pangolins which had been brought in by lorry or train from Yunnan to three neighbouring provinces between December and January this year, according to a report in the Yunnan Daily.
The pangolins, which resemble armadillos, had been injected with tranquillisers to keep them quiet.
Washington, April 21: WildAid Board member and Actress Bo Derek, who has been very active in promoting Veteran's Afffairs and horse protection in the US, was appointed U.S. special envoy of the Secretary of State for Wildlife Trafficking Issues in a ceremony at the State Department. Derek said she was honored to accept such a "daunting" role and to do her part to help raise awareness of wildlife issues. WildAid Director Peter Knights also spoke at the ceremony and presented WildAid public service announcements to the gathered audience.
A major Metropolitan Police initiative against the illegal sale of endangered species in London's Chinese medicine shops is launched today with the support of the Chinese community and Britain's leading wildlife charities. The new initiative will see a tough new focus on Chinese medicine practitioners selling goods that are made from, or even claim to be made from, endangered species. The launch takes place at New Scotland Yard at 11am today, and is run under the banner of Operation Charm, by the MET's Wildlife Crime Unit.
In advance of the world's largest wildlife trade meeting next week, 35 organisations have launched a powerful, 4-minute television spot urging China to keep its ban on tiger trade.
One of the UK's leading actors, Martin Jarvis, lent his voice to the spot, which details the consequences that reopening legal trade would have on wild tigers. The public service announcement can be viewed at http://www.endtigertrade.org.