How income inequality drives wildlife trade7 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
It’s story time!
There are two friends A and B who lives in a quaint town in Neverland. Both of them decided to venture out into the world beyond the ocean that lay before them. A went left, and B went right. Both worked hard and reached great success in their own lives. They met after 10 years on the shore of Neverland.
A arrived in a plane while B arrived by a boat that he steered himself.
Impressed by A’s wealth, B asked, ” Hey! What did you do all these years for all that wealth?”
A replied, “You know how it works! I worked at a big company!”
B exclaimed, “I did that too but I don’t have a plane.”
A replied,” Well you went right, and I went left. That is what has made all the difference.”
But A liked B’s boat a lot. So, B offered to share it with him as long as he gets to ride the plane at least once in three months. They shook on it. Now, you can see a plane above the shore as often as you can see a boat in the ocean, in Neverland.
What is income inequality? | Analysis of the story
For the same kind of work, A and B in the two countries were paid differently. This could be because the country to the right had a lot of debt, less access to lucrative natural resources, and therefore a shrunken ability to pay its people, as money is directed towards loan payment and other projects. As against this, the country to the left could have more natural resources like oil, natural gas etc. To sustain its growth, right-country starts seeking help from left-country through trade (like the boat for a ride on the plane).
Such kind of trade brings in money or opportunities that are circulated in the country to improve income conditions of the citizens. B is one such citizen
Sounds like a happy ending. But there’s more. This is merely the backdrop of the problem we are talking about today.
A new research published in Science Advances, shows that there is a direct link between income inequality between nations, and wildlife trade. Over the last 20 years (between 1998 and 2018), more than 420 million wild animals have been traded across 222 nations.
This trade stands as the biggest threat to endangered species.
Animals are traded for food, medicines, and ornamentation. Some wild animals are also thought of as delicacies, making their consumption a luxury.
The research has shown that mostly the direction of trade is from poor countries to richer countries. This means that more wild animals are sent out of poor countries to richer countries for consumption.
Indonesia, Jamaica, and Honduras are the largest exporters of wildlife products while the US, followed by France and Italy, were among the highest importers in the world.
Jia Huan Liew of the University of Hong Kong led the study. He believes that the poorer nations should be given financial incentives to limit their dependence on wildlife trade over a period of time. This would take the economic burden of wildlife trade.
Who regulates this trade?
There is a body called Cites (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) that manages the trade of wildlife between nations. It lowers demand for endangered species, and therefore protects species from extinction. But its power is limited and falls short in front of the domestic laws of individual countries.
Between 2006 and 2015, 1.3 million live animals and plants, 1.5 million skins, and 2,000 tonnes of meat were legally exported from Africa to Asia. And there is always the fear of illegal trade by putting certain wild animals available for sanctioned trade.
So, the burden of this problem rests entirely on people, and their perception of the co-inhabitants of our planet.
Is there a lesson here?
Wildlife trade has a direct impact on the species and their populations, but also has dire consequences for humans.
Do you think it is wrong to trade animals? Is it okay to think that animals are part of our world just for human use?
Let Owliver know what you think in the comments below!
For instance, take the virus-that-must-not-be-named. It is said to have originated from a wet-market (a market where live wild animals are traded in the open) in Wuhan, China. Many wild animals, especially mammals, have diseases that can be passed on to humans. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and Ebola have all been traced to wild animals.
Can animals transfer COVID-19 to humans? Click on this image to know more.
The pandemic brought an end to the wet markets in China. And this serves as a valuable lesson for the world—
If wet markets are banned, and illegal trafficking of animals is stopped, then we will not only gain control over future pandemics but also help animals rebuild their numbers. After all, this world was made for all of its beautiful creatures, and humans are only part of a big natural tapestry!
Before you go, remember that there’s always a little sunshine to remind us that good things can always happen—
This image will lead you there.