elephant mom and calf
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Wildlife Trafficking

Help Stop Wildlife Trafficking

Wildlife trafficking is the poaching and sale of live animals or plants or parts of them, like horns, wood, fur, bones, and ivory. Poachers collect animals or plants, and smugglers export and import them into countries that can be far from home. People who buy these products may use them for jewelry, home décor, or curiosities. Sometimes people purchase these items as souvenirs of a vacation, without knowing how they were collected or what it means to wildlife.

Wildlife trafficking has contributed to the decline—and sometimes, devastation—of many wildlife populations. Wildlife trafficking also has devastating consequences to human health. Seventy-five percent of emerging infectious diseases, such as bird flu, Ebola, and COVID19, are zoonotic – they are transmitted from wildlife to humans when we encroach on natural habitats and engage in activities that disrupt ecosystems, such as wildlife trafficking.


rhino calf and mom


Rhinoceros Horn

The illegal trade of rhinoceros horn is the greatest threat to rhinos. Although international trade in rhinoceros horn and its products has been banned, poaching is on the rise, and demand on an international black market continues to be a significant problem. Rhinos can’t hide when poachers use high-powered firearms, night-vision goggles, and helicopters.

Rhino horn—in blocks, slices, or powder form—is said to cure a number of ailments, from cancer to hangovers, without evidence of effectiveness. Horn material and products made from horn are sold over the counter in Vietnam and in many brand products in China. In addition, rhino horn is now considered a status symbol and often given as a gift, sometimes in the form of decorative items like carved cups and dagger handles.


large elephant herd


Elephant Ivory

In Africa, wildlife trafficking in ivory is a major cause of elephant population declines, and poaching is a threat to Asian elephants, too. Although international trade in ivory has been banned, poaching for an illegal, international market for elephant ivory continues to be a significant problem. Most elephant poachers today are organized and sophisticated groups, using helicopters and GPS to find elephants and automatic weapons to kill them.

Commercial trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, but a huge global demand for ivory carvings, jewelry, and art has resulted in illegal markets around the world, including here in the United States. Consumers may not know where their ivory knickknacks come from or how they are acquired—or they may not care.


Join Us – Be an Ally for Wildlife!

Here are some things you can do to help stop wildlife trafficking.

  • Be mindful when you purchase souvenirs while traveling. Trinkets that come from animals or plants may not be sustainably collected—and may even be illegal.
  • Be informed before you buy. Don’t be afraid to ask shop owners where items came from. If they don’t know an item’s origin, don’t buy it.
  • Encourage your friends and family to buy smart.
  • Learn more at the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance.