ENDANGERED ANIMALS AND THE PET TRADE

by Editor on July 29, 2009

The Endangered Hyacinth Macaw Is A Favorite Target of Pet-Trade Poachers. Photo:Anna_Cotta/Wikimedia Commons

The Endangered Hyacinth Macaw is a Favorite Target of Pet-Trade Poachers. Photo:Anna_Cotta/Wikimedia Commons

People who capture endangered wildlife for the pet trade are every bit as responsible as any other type of poacher for the fact that species are dwindling in the wild. Tropical birds along with tropical fish and reptiles are favorite targets of pet-trade poachers.

Today’s Top 10 Endangered Species News

The US Fish & Wildlife Service announced today that a North Carolina live-fish importer has pleaded guilty to smuggling endangered Asian bonytongue fish into the United States from Vietnam.

According to the USFWS announcement: “Service wildlife inspectors in Atlanta discovered 10 of the rare fish concealed in hidden compartments in the bottoms of several boxes of an otherwise legally imported tropical fish shipment; agents strengthened the case by obtaining e-mail and photographic evidence to further document the foiled smuggling attempt. The importer, who initially denied knowledge of the smuggling, faces a maxium sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”

“Endangered Asian bonytongue fish (also known as Asian arowanas) are highly prized by collectors; some believe that the fish bring good luck.” But not, apparently, to one particular North Carolina wildlife smuggler . . .

In a related development, USFWS recently agreed to take a close look at 12 species of parrots from around the world to determine whether they merit protection as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. USFWS is acting in response to a January, 2008 petition by the conservation group, Friends of Animals.

While USFWS’s main job is to protect wildlife in the United States, the agency sometimes places non-native species on the US endangered species list in order to prevent importation of the animals and their parts into the US, as well as to raise awareness of the plight the creatures face in their own native habitats.

Wild parrots and other creatures around the world are captured to be sold through the international pet industry, a situation that has often contributed greatly to their declining numbers. Many of those animals end up in the US. In the case of parrots, other factors in the worldwide decline of their numbers include habitat loss, low reproductive rates and lax anti-poaching law enforcement.

According to the USFWS announcement, 12 species of parrots ranging in location from Latin America and the Caribbean to Indonesia will undergo an in-depth status review. The species being considered for ESA listing are the blue-headed macaw, the crimson shining parrot, the great green macaw, the grey-cheeked parakeet, the hyacinth macaw, the military macaw, the Philippine cockatoo, the red-crowned parrot, the scarlet macaw, the white cockatoo, the yellow-billed parrot and the yellow-crested cockatoo.

Nor is poaching and the “legal” capture of wild species for the pet trade confined to reptiles, fish and fowl. Large mammals such as primates—monkeys, lemurs, chimpanzees and orangutans—and a number of big-cat species native to the world’s rain forests are also taken for the pet trade.

For more information on parrots’ rainforest habitat, click here.

And for the Friends of Animals web site, click here.

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