Around the World

Poaching, Trafficking a Menace for Already Endangered Animals

A global phenomenon threatens some of the most endangered animals on the planet. Poaching and illegal trading are targeting dwindling populations of elephants in Africa; majestic big cats such as tigers in Asia; and rhinoceros populations in several parts of the world.

China is the No. 1 destination in this illegal trade, where rising incomes are driving a demand for exotic pets, trinkets, traditional medicines and rare foods, with the United States coming in second. But the worldwide trade is so widespread, so pervasive that it's now estimated at up to $20 billion per year, second only to arms and drug smuggling, according to the U.S. Department of State.

One of the most critical situations is the slaughter of elephants in Central and Eastern Africa. Poachers are killing tens of thousands of the animals every year, fueling the illegal trade in ivory.

In late October, customs officers in Hong Kong confiscated nearly 4 tons of ivory, worth more than $3 million dollars in the biggest such seizure ever. Earlier this summer, authorities fined two men after finding nearly a ton of ivory in jewelry stores in New York City's Diamond District. And in mid-July, customs officers in Bangkok, Thailand, seized more than 150 elephant tusks hidden in crates aboard a flight from Kenya.

Thailand is a top transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade. All manner of animals, from lizards and turtles to baby panthers, leopards and tigers have been discovered, even in passengers' checked luggage. Late in October in northern Thailand, police intercepted a driver with 16 tiger cubs in the back seat of his truck. This week, customs officials at a checkpoint seized 600 cobras from a truck transporting them from Malaysia for use in food and traditional medicine.

Governments and private organizations are doing what they can to stem the trade. In 2005, the State Department created the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, a public-private partnership of government agencies and non-governmental organizations, with the stated goals of improving enforcement, reducing consumer demand, and catalyzing high-level political will to fight the illegal wildlife trade.

At the recent "Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking" in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the illegal trade a "national security issue, a public health issue and an economic security issue," calling on the intelligence community to study the impact of large-scale wildlife trafficking on security interests. She also called for the creation of a global system of regional wildlife enforcement networks, pledging $100,000 from the State Department to help get it started. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has undertaken various stunts to draw attention to threatened animals (most memorably, a motorized hang glider flight over Siberia to lead endangered white cranes on their migration route).

This week Christiane talks about the insidious trade in animals and animal parts with Robert Hormats. He's the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment at the State Department.

Loading...
  • The top iPhone and iPad apps on App Store

    App Store Official Charts for the week ending September 1, 2014:

  • Midday Glance: Railroad companies

    Shares of some top railroad companies are mixed at 1 p.m.: CSX rose $.13 or .4 percent, to $31.04. Canadian National Railway Co. rose $.08 or .1 percent, to $71.94. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. rose $2.22 ...

  • Russia repeating Georgia and Moldova formula in Ukraine: analysts
    Russia repeating Georgia and Moldova formula in Ukraine: analysts

    Russia aims to employ the well-tested strategy it used to destabilise its neighbours Georgia and Moldova, and with separatists gaining ground it looks like Moscow will succeed again, analysts said. Last weekend, for the first time, President Vladimir Putin raised the possibility of "statehood" for eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting against government forces. While the Kremlin said Putin's comments were misinterpreted, "the choice of words were not by chance," said Fyodor Lukyanov, chief editor of Russia in Global Affairs. Russia had previously only called for the region -- where Russian-speakers predominate -- to have more authority in a federal system.

  • Celebrities' nude shots removed from some websites
    Celebrities' nude shots removed from some websites

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — As federal investigators worked Tuesday to determine who stole and posted nude photos of several female celebrities online, the images continued to be removed from various sites.

  • Putin's '2 weeks to Kiev' out of context: aide
    Putin's '2 weeks to Kiev' out of context: aide

    MOSCOW (AP) — A Kremlin aide on Tuesday sharply criticized EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for breaching confidentiality when he quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying Moscow could take over Kiev in two weeks, if it wished.

  • Microsoft's Operating System Strategy Isn't Going According to Plan
    Microsoft's Operating System Strategy Isn't Going According to Plan

    Microsoft isn't having a great Tuesday. According to new data released Tuesday by StatCounter, 24 percent of all PCs connected to the Internet still use the antiquated operating system. Here's the StatCounter report on OS changes worldwide over the past year, showing Windows 8.1 nudging past Windows 8 as Windows XP slowly declines: StatCounter

  • Study links polar vortex chills to melting sea ice
    Study links polar vortex chills to melting sea ice

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of cold air as the world gets warmer.

  • Apple says celebs hacked in 'targeted attack'
    Apple says celebs hacked in 'targeted attack'

    Apple said Tuesday a "targeted attack" led to the release of nude photos of celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence but insisted there was no breach of its cloud storage system. "After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet," Apple said. "None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved."

Loading...