Trade and Poaching Plight: 5 Animals

The threat of extinction and population decline is the worst case scenario for any species. For those with an environmental interest, it’s important to push our minds towards increased effort into conservation. We should be bringing the threat of illegal trade and poaching to light as much as possible, in order to see the continued survival of many significant species.


One elephant is killed every 15 minutes by poachers, amounting to 96 elephants slaughtered a day. For animals with the largest brains in the animal kingdom, they are exploited for their ivory. Unsurprisingly, there has been a 30% decline in Africa’s savannah elephant population over a seven year period. Progress is happening, with many countries all over the world agreeing to a ban on domestic ivory markets this past year, and films like ‘The Ivory Game’ raising global awareness.


A fairly recent exploitation, rays have been killed for their gills in the past 10 years, most being sold to Asian markets where exotic fish is a delicacy. Populations have dropped by more than half in some areas, and with the gills fetching as much as $500 on the markets – they have attracted poachers. More positively, in October 2016, global leaders approved higher levels of protections for devil rays.


Pangolins face multiple threats as they are poached for use as a food source, medicine and for their skin, meat and scales. They are another popular choice on the Asian market, with China being the main source of pangolin products. There is a growing demand for nearly all body parts of the pangolin. In a recent 2 year spike ending in 2013, 117,000 – 235,000 pangolins were estimated to have been killed.


A statistic that shocked many: a quarter of the world’s shark species are threatened with extinction, due mainly to overfishing. With over 100,000,000 sharks killed a year, figures estimate 270,000+  sharks are being killed per day. Finning is a massive problem, like elephants and their tusks, sharks are killed for a single body part. In October 2016, global leaders placed silky sharks and thresher sharks on Appendix II of CITIES.


Best known for their single long tusk, in conservation narwhals have become a silent sufferer. Their numbers have decreased to around 75,000, meaning they are considered near threatened by the IUCN. They are threatened by hunting, climate change and industrial activity. Canada and Greenland  hunt narwhals to this day. They continue to receive inadequate protection, making them different from almost all the animals mentioned.

It’s important to take action against illegal animal exploitation in the new year of 2017.

If you’re curious to find out about more species that face extinction or are vulnerable and want to help, visit

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Rosie Alice

Rosie Alice

Environmental writings and NGO volunteer
Rosie Alice

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