BLACK MARKETING OF ANIMAL BODY PARTS AND POACHING OF TIGERS IN ASIA
Author: Amisha bharti, ILS LAW COLLEGE, PUNE
BLACK MARKETING OF ANIMAL BODY PARTS AND POACHING OF TIGERS IN ASIA: WAYS TO STRENGTHEN NATIONAL AND TRANSNATIONAL LAWS TO CURB THIS VICIOUS CYCLE
Earth is the only planet in solar system which supports life. Human beings have threatened the wildlife by making destruction to the places where animals live, by killing or hunting them down making loss of natural habitat.[i]Black marketing, Illegal selling, hunting or selling their body parts, all of this has an impact on the environment and ecosystem's natural state because it plays a significant role in our health and biodiversity. The illegal trade of animal parts has been an issue in Asia for centuries. Animal parts such as ivory, rhino horn, and tiger bones are considered valuable and are sold at a high price in the black market. The demand for these products is primarily from China and Vietnam, where they are used in traditional medicine and as a status symbol. Despite the efforts of conservationists and wildlife officials, the black-market trade of animal body parts continues to thrive, leading to the decline of several species. Threatened animals for sale include many species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, fishes, and corals. Of the estimated 350 million animals and plants being traded worldwide every year, it is believed that 25% is carried out illegally.[ii]
BLACK MARKETING OF ANIMAL BODY PARTS
Not all wildlife trade is illegal. Wild plants and animals from tens of thousands of species are caught or harvested from the wild and then sold legitimately as food, pets, ornamental plants, leather, tourist ornaments and medicine. Wildlife trade escalates into a crisis when an increasing proportion is illegal and unsustainable directly threatening the survival of many species in the wild.[iii]
Before delving into the root cause of black marketing, it’s important to understand why animals are illegally traded or why there is black marketing of animal’s body part. Demand for animals has increased along with the size of the human population. People are accustomed to a lifestyle that increases demand for animals in many different places. They anticipate having access to a range of textiles, leather products, lumber, and fish[iv].On the other hand, those who live in great poverty may view animals as a desirable commodity for trade. According to the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest form of transnational organised crime (after smuggling of drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeiting) worth anestimated $15 billion per annum.[v]
The illegal trade of animal parts has been an issue in Asia for centuries. Animal parts such as ivory, rhino horn, and tiger bones are considered valuable and are sold at a high price on the black market. The demand for these products is primarily from China and Vietnam, where they are usedthe in traditional medicine and as a status symbol. Despite the efforts of conservationists and wildlife officials, the black-market trade of animal parts continues to thrive, leading to the decline of several species. Illegal wildlife trading (IWT) has had hitherto unheard-of effects on animals in recent years. After human, drug, and weapon trafficking, this trade, estimated to be worth $7 to 23 billion a year, is the world's fourth most lucrative. It endangers the existence of some of our most treasured species as well as the ecosystems on which they rely.
POACHING OF TIGERS IN ASIA
Tigers are one of the most iconic animals in the world, and their population has been dwindling rapidly in recent years. The main cause of their decline is poaching, which is driven by the demand for tiger parts on the black market. Tiger bones, skins, and other body parts are used in traditional medicine and as luxury goods in many parts of Asia. Poaching is not only a threat to tigers but also to other wildlife, as poachers often use indiscriminate methods such as snaring, poisoning, and shooting, which can harm other animals. The main countries where tiger poaching occurs are India, China, and Southeast Asian countries. The impact of poaching on tigers is profound. According to estimates, the tiger population in Asia has declined by more than 95% over the past century, from over 100,000 in the early 1900s to less than 4,000 today. Poaching is one of the main factors driving this decline, along with habitat loss, human-tiger conflict, and climate change. In addition to the direct impact on the tiger population, poaching also has wider ecological and social effects. Tigers play a key role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitat, and their decline can lead to imbalances in the food chain and loss of biodiversity. The loss of tigers also has a negative impact on local communities, who depend on the ecosystem services provided by the forest.
India shares a border with numerous Asian nations that is not entirely secured to prevent illicit passage or trade, which encourages the growth of poaching in India and makes it difficult to distinguish between domestic and international poaching. Uttarakhand was named the most dangerous state for leopards and tigers, as the state recorded 60 illegal tiger kills and 230 recognised leopard killings from 2014 to 2018, to control this the WPSI government and non-governmental organisations banded together to investigate and protect tigers in the Indian state.
The black marketing or illegal trade of animal body parts is driven by a variety of factors, which includes:
Demand for traditional medicines: Many animal parts are believed to have medicinal properties in traditional medicine, particularly in some cultures in Asia and Africa. This demand creates a market for animal parts, which fuels illegal trade.
Cultural beliefs: Certain cultures believe that animal parts have supernatural powers and can bring good luck or ward off evil spirits. This belief fuels demand for animal parts, which drives illegal trade.
Poverty: In some parts of the world, people engage in illegal trade of animal parts as a means of earning money to support themselves and their families. Illegal trade in animal parts can be more lucrative than legal trade in other goods.
Poaching: Poaching of endangered or threatened species for their body parts is a major factor in the illegal trade of animal parts. The demand for animal parts, combined with the scarcity of some species, drives poaching, which fuels illegal trade.
Lack of enforcement, Ineffective legislation, Greed and profit etc.
There are devasting effects to black marketing or poaching. Poaching is considered as one of the primary reasons of extinction of animals and categorizes other species as endangered species. Tigers are the best example as they are at the brink of the extinction due to the black marketing and illegal poaching. African pangolins are equally now the targets by poachers as the Asian ones become harder to find.
It also results in more human deaths;[vi]Poaching has tragically resulted in the deaths of countless people. Poachers kill rangers and cops in specific parks when security is increased in order to gain access to wild animals. Between 2009 and 2016, more than 600 rangers hired to safeguardwildlife in Africa and were slain by poachers, according to National Geographic data.
It also effects the ecosystem and biodiversity; it creates an imbalance in the ecosystem. There must be predators and prey for the ecosystem to survive. Keystone species, such as top predators, prey on populations to keep them from ballooning and to preserve general variety. Many wildlife animals, therefore, help to maintain the food chain and food web equilibrium in the wild and their extinction could lead to even more animal and plant species owing to the explosive expansion of other species. This is what might happen as a result of poaching since it causes an imbalance in the wild ecosystem, especially when keystone species are targeted.
WAYS TO STRENGHTEN NATIONAL AND TRANSNATIONAL LAWS TO CURB THIS THIS VICIOUS CYCLE.
In response to the poaching and illegal trade of animal parts, several laws have been enacted in Asia to protect wildlife. In India, the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was introduced to protect endangered species and regulate hunting and poaching. The Act provides for the establishment of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and conservation reserves for the protection of wildlife. A general offence under the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972 carries a maximum term of three years in prison or a fine of Rs. 25,000, or both. Government introduced prevention of cruelty to animals act, 1960. The legislative intent of the Act is to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”. Section 4 of the Act established the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) in 1962.This Act punishes those who cause needless cruelty and suffering to animals. The Act specifies animals and their many forms. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code 1960, state that murdering, poaching, maiming, poisoning, or torturing an animal is a cognizable offence, and a FIR must be filed promptly at the police station. The penalty for such an act is rigours imprisonment for up to five years, a fine, or both.[vii]
In China there is a wildlife protection law of people’s republic of China was enacted in 1989 and revised in 2016. The law prohibits the illegal hunting, trading, transportation, and consumption of wildlife, including endangered species. The law provides for heavy fines and imprisonment for violators. In Thailand the wildlife protection of 1992,In Malaysia the wildlife conservation act of 2010 provides for the conservation and management of wildlife.
The effectiveness of these laws is often limited by inadequate enforcement and corruption. Therefore, it is important for governments, NGOs, and communities to work together to address the root causes of black marketing and poaching, and to ensure that these laws are effectively implemented and enforced.
“We don’t own the planet Earth; we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.”
Black marketing or illegal selling of animal parts is thriving around the world. Over the last few years, endangered species are sold illegally in Asia. Due to the black market many endangered species are closest to extinction. Many have lost their existence and it is causing the problem not only for wildlife but also to human being as this activity disturb nature and nature runs with the help of the living beings. And the decline of these species not only disturbs biodiversity but also create social and economic implications. The laws made to end this vicious circle are an important step towards protecting wildlife and ensuring a sustainable future for the region.
[i]https://wwf.panda.org/discover/our_focus/wildlife_practice/problems/habitat_loss_degradation/ [ii]https://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/project_illegaltrade.html stop illegal wildlife trading projects. [iii]https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/illegal-wildlife-trade [iv]https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/wildlife-trafficking-lawyers.html [v]https://india.mongabay.com/2022/06/explainer-why-is-india-a-major-hub-for-wildlife-trafficking/ why is India a major hub for wildlife trafficking [vi]https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-effects-solutions-poaching.php/ causes, effects and extraordinary ways to stop poaching. [vii]https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-7772-legal-provisions-relating-to-animal-poaching-in-india.html#:~:text=Indian%20Penal%20Code%2C%201960,years%20or%20fine%20or%20both. Legal provisions relating to illegal poaching in India.