Are investors driving the illegal wildlife trade?

Are investors driving the illegal wildlife trade?
south africa rhino

Is investment and not culture or tradition the new driving force of the illegal wildlife trade?

A new survey of the illegal trade in wildlife across Asia has contradicted some commonly held beliefs. The survey was conducted by a consortium of wildlife and conservation NGO’s and media companies in preparation for a marketing campaign to reduce the trade.

The belief that the trade in endangered species is being kept alive by older tradionalist in Asia seems to be incorrect as the survey discovered that the younger generation is driving the increasing trade. [pullquote]The most prolific purchasers of animal products are wealthy urban males aged between 25 and 45. These young men are not buying rhino horn, for example, as cures for cancer or fertility boosts but as status sysmbols and investments.[/pullquote]

In China, for instance, it’s not the rural traditional heads of families that purchase endangered animals and parts for use in traditional or cultural practices. The most prolific purchasers of animal products are wealthy urban males aged between 25 and 45. These young men are not buying rhino horn, for example, as cures for cancer or fertility boosts but as status sysmbols and investments.

Consumer profiles collected during the survey across 15 Asian countries indicated that the quest for prestige and higher status is driving much of the current slaughter of elephants, tigers, pangolins, bears, and rhinos.  Government interest in the issue in most countries remains very low, outside small and under-funded environmental agencies

The survey was released as a working party from the coalition met in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Non-governmental organizations from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and India gathered there with advertising and media specialists to share survey information relating to illegal consumption of rare and endangered species, such as tigers, elephants, rhinos, pangolins, and bears.

The coalition agreed to coordinate educational efforts based on their shared surveys, with joint campaigns being designed in several countries.  The Governments of Vietnam, China, Thailand and the USA are currently being courted as partners, while business leaders, celebrities and other opinion leaders who sincerely care about the issue are also being actively recruited.

Participating in the regional “Working Group on Demand Reduction” were: Education Nature for Vietnam (ENV), Conservation International-China, IFAW-China, WildAid-China, FREELAND-Thailand and India, Wildlife Alliance-Cambodia, JWT Advertising Firm, and AsiaWorks Television.  Each organization brings certain strengths to the coalition, including connections to governments, celebrities, and marketing capacity.

The Working Group gathering was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development “ARREST” Program (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), which is coordinated by FREELAND.

External sites:

Freeland Foundation.

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