7 things you can do to help prevent the Illegal Wildlife Trade

by ZSL on

1. Be a savvy tourist 

While abroad, be conscious of places that may be advertising experiences with animals that could be linked to wildlife trafficking or partaking in photographs which could inadvertently promote the trafficking of wildlife. Selfies with tigers, loris, monkeys, parrots, leopard cats, orangutans or bears which are sometimes used to attract tourists should also be avoided, as these animals could be obtained from the wild.

Two girls looking over a balcony at blue sky in central London
Select tourism experiences that won't have an impact on animal welfare

2.    Buy sustainably sourced products

Be a responsible consumer and stick to products with transparent and ethical supply chains. Whenever buying any products made from wood ensure the wood has been harvested ethically and sustainably, for example by checking they are FSC certified.

The illegal timber trade is worth billions of pounds a year. Illegal and highly destructive deforestation drives biodiversity decline and enables wildlife poaching and trafficking. 

Try to ensure products that contain palm oil do so from sustainable RSPO certified sources and only buy fish from sustainable sources whose supply chain can be tracked from its origin to sales point.The Good Fish Guide can help you select sustainable sea food, and the Giki app is a useful way to check the ethical standards of products.

Woman reading a poster in a shop
Ensure the products you are purchasing are sustainably sourced.

3.    Say NO to endangered and exotic animal products

Be aware and avoid buying products derived from wildlife, plants, or other items made from them, online or in stores, even if legal within the country of origin. Items mistakenly bought in good faith include feathers from exotic birds, tortoise shell products, ivory products, products made from big cat species (such as jewellery made from canines, claws, skins), cacti, sea turtle shells, corals in jewellery and wild orchids. Sadly, this is by no means a comprehensive list. When in doubt ask where it has come from and for documentation proving legality. 

Leopard skin laid out flat
Avoid buying products derived from wildlife.

Even if it is being sold legally the presence of a legal trade can provide a loophole through which Endangered trafficked specimens can be laundered. Legal markets can perpetuate the desirability of products made from Endangered species, which can further drive demand, maintaining the value of the species as a commodity and encouraging exploitation by transnational organised criminal networks. 

4.    Avoid bizarre ‘delicatessen’

When abroad it is tempting to order the bizarre or the extraordinary for the sake of an anecdote or out of simple curiosity. Think carefully before you do

Avoid, for example, ordering shark fin soup, swallow nest soup, drinking tiger bone wine, or any drink infused with animal or plant parts or products. Exotic wild meats such as Chinese giant salamander, snakes, songbirds, monkey, turtle or tortoise should also not be on your holiday menu.

Bowl of shark fin soup with lid and coriander
Soup made from shark fins may be a delicacy in Eastern Asia but is harmful to wildlife populations

Try to avoid consuming eggs harvested from the wild, in particular from sea turtles, or buying medicines made from wild animals and plants such as bear bile, wild ginseng, caterpillar fungus (Yatsa Gumbu) or tiger parts. 

5.    Choose the right pet

When purchasing pets be aware that Europe and the US are major demand markets for trafficked animals for the pet trade. Populations of certain amphibians, snakes, lizards, tarantulas, beetles, parrots, songbirds, and more, have been and continue to be impacted by illegal and unsustainable removal from the wild.

Ensure you can confirm that what you are buying comes from a respected and captive bred certified stock. Even then, be aware that the species could be rare in the wild.

Mexican red knee tarantula
Confirm that what you are buying comes from a respected and certified stock.

6. Report the crime

Report suspected evidence of illegal wildlife trade to the National Wildlife Crime Unit NWCU. Never buy suspected illegal parts and products of wildlife as evidence as you could be prosecuted, and it only perpetuates demand.

Man typind on UKNWCU page
Report wildlife crime to the NCWU

7.    Your support matters!

Continue to support ZSL. As an international conservation charity, we work with a wide range of stakeholders from communities to partner NGO’s, governments and law enforcement agencies around the world to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. 

Support us for as little as £5 a month 

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