The ‘Big 5 and Little 5’are the most commercially trafficked animals from Africa to the rest of the World. This trade may be legal, but it doesn’t make it right. These are wild animals, not factory-produced goods.
The global wildlife trade hurts the wild animals being traded damaging Africa’s biodiversity, having negative long-term impacts on the environment and community livelihoods.
The latest report, Exploiting Africa’s wildlife – the ‘Big 5’ and ‘Little 5’ released by World Animal Protection, reveals that direct human exploitation, such as harvesting animals for trade, is the second-largest driver of change to nature.
The reality for African wildlife
Between 2007 and 2014, Africa lost 30 per cent of its elephant populations. The Democratic Republic of Congo has lost up to 79 per cent of its African Grey Parrots due to illicit wildlife trade.
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These animals are being mercilessly exploited for profit in food, medicine, fashion, décor and the exotic pet trade. Animals are not only harvested for local food and traditions but gathered on a massive scale for international commercial trade.
For example; the value of ivory is so great that poaching is often conducted by organised crime syndicates who use sophisticated technology to track and kill these animals
If this trade doesn’t stop, Africa will lose its entire wild population which happens to be the pride of the continent.
What can be done
African governments need to develop and revise their legislation to ensure African wildlife is protected. In addition, companies in the wildlife industry should ensure that their policies are towards wildlife conservation to protect the existing numbers.
Although trade in some wildlife and their parts is legal, it doesn’t make it ethical, humane or sustainable. It has devastating impacts on wild animal welfare at all stages of the trade chain. A lifetime in captivity for some of the animals traded for use as exotic pets is so contrary to their natural environment – it is no life at all.
Wildlife trade is also destroying Africa’s wild populations. Around one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction globally – more than ever before in human history. Human exploitation, like commercial trade, is the second biggest driver of this destruction yet wildlife is critical to Africa’s biodiversity, eco-system, economy and people.