Almost 2,000 monitor lizards, and hundreds of turtles were captured by Thai authorities. Also twenty snakes and over forty civets were part of a large stash of wild endangered animals discovered hidden in a truck. The number of turtles was over 700, according to one source. It is the largest wildlife trafficking bust so far this year in Thailand.

Illegal trade in protected animals is a multi-billionaire dollar market and is driving many animals toward extinction, along with habitat loss. One estimate put the trading at US $10 billion per year or more. There is so much money being made that organized crime is involved, which is one of the reasons why it is difficult to stop. Organized crime has extensive social networks, and large amounts of money used to bribe officials and pay local people to poach animals.

The effects of the illegal trade are devastating. One estimate says 13-42% of Southeast Asia’s animal and plant species could be driven into extinction in this century. Don’t think illegal wildlife trafficking isn’t connected to drug and human trafficking also. The people who are buying illegal wildlife are handing their money over to crime syndicates that also illegally buy and sell drugs and prostitutes.

Recently forest rangers in Thailand participated in anti-poaching training exercises to help them prepare for conflicts with wildlife criminals. These criminals are not isolated individuals, often they are organized into gangs, that entice or goad locals into helping them pilfer tigers, snakes, turtles, bears, deer, elephant ivory. Also they go after aloe-wood, teak, and other valuable species.

If you want to do something constructive to help wildlife, never purchase any products containing animal products, and report any suspicious products or activities that might involve exotic animals to the proper authorities.

posted by Jake Richardson
Credit/Source: AFP - Kansas City

Read More: Wildlife Trafficking: A Global Threat

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