ANIMAL SMUGGLING Imagine walking through a American airport and you notice a woman’s skirt flapping up and down. At first thought you think nothing of it, but at second glance you you see feathers falling to the floor and two beautiful toucan parrots trying to make a last chance escape from the airport. One would think this never happens, but in all actuality these toucan parrots were drugged with dangerous tranquilizers and are a long ways from home. These birds are just a fraction of the ten billion dollar industry ones come to know as animal smuggling in North America (Smithsonian Magazine).
With more than thirty eight million different species being smuggled into the states each year wildlife officers and custom officials have there hands full on tackling this huge pandemic. Animal smuggling is classified as the third most valuable illicit commerce in the world, according to the U. S. State Department (Smithsonian Magazine). Animal trafficking is an illegal form of modern day slavery.
Animals are not property and they are unfortunately being used in many different ways. As human beings we can make a difference to stop this despicable business.
By definition the word smuggling means the secret movement of goods across national borders to avoid customs duties or import restrictions (National Geographic Kids). This usually occurs when either customs duties are high enough to allow a smuggler to make a large profit on the clandestine goods or when there is a strong demand for prohibited goods. Federal law prohibits the importation of a number of items that are injurious to public health or welfare. To combat smuggling, custom agents have the authority to search an individual and one’s baggage or any containers sent into the country.
In America anyone who is guilty of knowingly smuggling any goods that are prohibited by law or aids in the commission of one of these acts can be charged with a felony and can also be assessed civil penalties (New Scientist). These penalties differ in other countries, such as a small fine or just a possible warning. Of the thirty eight million wild animals illegally captured or poached only forty percent or 1. 52 million actually make it to their final destination (Mother Jones). The profit margin for the person capturing the usually endangered animal is very low.
While on the flip side the buyer of these animals, after many exchanges of hands is extremely high. Not only is the profit margin high for the middle man selling these animals, the journey from one continent to another is often a terrible ordeal for live cargo. Toucan parrots often have their beaks taped shut, stuffed into nylon stockings, many times the birds are drugged or their eyes are perforated so that they will not sing in reaction to the light are just sum passengers in these cruel flights. “The airlines don’t comply with international rules.
During transport thirty to sixty percent off the species die. ” says Giovanni Guadanga with the world wildlife fund (Mother Jones). Species trafficking is considered a crime in most countries, but penalties vary from: six months to six years in prison. In 2002, seventeen people were indicted in Mexico on animal trafficking charges and paid hefty fines of five hundred eighty thousand dollars (National Geographic News). The largest animal smuggler in the world is Vixay Keosavang from Hong Tong, Laos. This gentleman operates out of Laos due to the loose laws on animal smuggling in that country.
Laotian laws state that under the pretense that these animals are bred in captivity and therefore, in many cases can be sold legally. South African authorities prosecuting a case of rhinoceros horn smuggling say one of Mr. Vixays companies, Xaysavang Trading, perpetrated “One of the biggest swindles in environmental crime history,” circumventing the law by hiring people to pose as hunters, who are allowed to kill a limited number of rhinos as trophies (New York Times). In a separate case, Kenyan officials tied the company to the smuggling of elephant tusks for the ivory trade. Mr. Vixay is the single largest known illegal wildlife trafficker in Asia,” said Steve Galster, the executive director of Freeland, a counter trafficking organization that has been trailing Vixay for eight years. ”He runs an aggressive business, sourcing lucrative wild animals and body parts wherever they are easily obtained. Every country with commercially valuable wildlife should beware. (New York Times)” A single sales contract from 2009 obtained from Freeland suggests the large volume of animals that Mr. Vixay trades in.
Xaysavang Trading, Mr. Vixays company, agreed to sell seventy thousands snakes, twenty thousand turtles and twenty thousand monitor lizards to a Vietnamese company for eight-hundred and sixty thousand dollars. The shear volume of sales by this man is incredibly dangerous for not only Americans but to the animals as well. There are many ways on how people smuggle the animals. For instance the popular way to transport birds is to again wrap them in cloth and hide them in sewn pouches into the waist of ones pants.
If fellow airline passengers pay more attention at airports, more traffickers could be put behind bars. In 2002, in Los Angelas a man returning from Bangkok Thailand was apprehended at customs for trying to sneak in two endangered pygmy monkeys, in his underwear. Not only did this man have two very rare monkeys but when his luggage was opened birds of paradise flew out into the airport, he also had fifty very rare orchids as well (National Geographic Kids). On a flight bound to America from the Republic of Congo, a man smuggled a crocodile on board a flight.
The plane crashed and killed twenty of the twenty one passengers on board due to the reptile escaping from the duffel bag, passengers and crew panicked, according to the news report. The sole survivor says the reptile survived the crash but was later killed with a machete. “Habitat loss is probably the main threat to the New World tropical animals, says Carlos Drew, a biologist for the Wildlife Fund in Costa Rica. “Wildlife trafficking and over exploration are probably second. ”as one zoo director in Brazil told me, “There are no limits.
You can buy whatever you want. Every species is for sale. (Smothosian Magazine)” Drews went on an undercover mission into the Brazilian rainforest to fetch some very rare scarlet macaws, the worlds most rarest form of bird. On his trip he realized first hand the process on how the birds get from there natural habitat to someones bird cage in suburban America. The villagers that fetched the birds were paid only one hundred and fifty American dollars per bird. Once these scarlets hit America the transporter made over fifty five thousand dollars a piece (New Scientist).
This huge price jump is why organized crime rings and cartel members to continue this very illegal activity. Animals are smuggled to America not only for personal pleasure, but used in pharmaceutical testing. Patrick Brown has been documenting international trade in animals for many years. One story that stuck out the most was when he confiscated a package of tiger teeth on their way to China. Along with rhinoceros horns, which is popular as biological Viagra. Many animal parts are used in what Brown calls the “Big, sexy animals” such as tigers, rhinos, orangutans.
With pharmaceutical research, the demand for monkeys in China and India has skyrocketed due to lab testing (Natural History). By making people aware of animal smuggling, it gives the innocent species a better chance to remain in their natural habitats. Works Cited Smithsonian Magazine, “Wildlife Trafficking” December 2009 http://www. smithsonianmag. com/people-places/Wildlife-Trafficking. html#ixzz2Mu161i2f New York Times “Trafficking of Wildlife, Out of Reach Law” March 4, 2013 pg A4 Ingber, Sasha “The Price of Ivory” National Geographic News Jan. 0, 2013 Scanlon, John E “An Uncertain Future for African Elephants” Queen Sirikit National March 14,2013 Baird, Kristin “Animal Smuggling Crime Airports” National Geographic Kids Jun/Jul 2005 pg. 26-27 Glausiusz, Josie “Far from the forest of the night” Natural History, February 2008 pg. 40-44 Bauerlein, Monika “The Business of Poaching” Mother Jones Jul/Aug 2005, vol30 issue4, pg 64-69 Rosaleen, Duffy “Your Role in Wildlife Crime” New Scientist Sept 11 2010 vol. 207 issue 2777 pg 28 Hancock, Lee “The Buck Stops Here” Texas Monthly Jan 2012 vol40 issue 1 pg74-88
Cite this Combating the Smuggling of Animals
Combating the Smuggling of Animals. (2016, Sep 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/animal-smuggling/