Numerous top companies announced that they would be joining the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (USWTA) on March 3, 2016. The goal of this coalition is to crack down on the illegal trade of wildlife in the U.S., and to educate consumers about the concept.
The USWTA is a voluntary group of non-profit organizations, companies, foundations, and media outlets that work alongside the government to decrease the sale and purchase of illegal wildlife products in the United States. It was created by the Obama administration on July 31, 2015.
Sixteen leading companies, including Google, Etsy, eBay, JetBlue, Ralph Lauren, Discovery Communications, Ralph Lauren, and Tiffany & Co., have devoted their resources to the cause. Each company plans to use its large influence on its customers to inform them and change the way they see things.
For example, JetBlue will enlighten passengers traveling to places like Latin America where trafficking is a concern that it is illegal to eat certain animals or take others home as pets.
Head of JetBlue sustainability Sophia Menelsohn said, “It’s about stopping the problem before it gets to the point of being on an airplane. Once it’s in a box or a bag on an airplane, it’s already too late.”
Discovery announced that it will send representatives to schools to talk about trafficking of endangered wildlife. The company is working on a virtual project to be presented at zoos and aquariums.
Google shopping has already established a rule against the advertising of products from endangered species such as shark fins, ivory, tiger pelts, rhino horns, and dolphin oil.
Freshman Saahithi Dantuluri said, “I love animals, and I hate the fact that they are being killed every day for their skin, tusks, or fur. However, I think it is amazing that these large, influential companies are trying to help stop the illegal trafficking. They might actually be able to make a big difference.”
Tiffany & Co. will meet with other jewelers to teach them about the iniquity of selling products made from wildlife, such as jewelry made of ivory.
The Bronx Zoo and Members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have also pledged to join the fight against animal smuggling by educating children and adults who visit their locations.
A representative from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service International Affairs said, “The illegal wildlife trade runs the gamut from illegal logging of protected forests to supply the demand for exotic woods, to the illegal fishing of endangered marine life for food, and the poaching of elephants to supply the demand for ivory.”
Illegal poaching and selling has been decreasing animal populations and destroying their habitats for many years. Animal trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it is fueled by people’s desire for exotic pets, traditional medicines, and certain foods. Poachers earn their money by giving these people what they want.
A 2014 study by RESOLVE, a company that also helps wildlife, found that 100,000 elephants were slaughtered by poachers for their tusks from 2010 to 2012. Furthermore, 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2014 for their horns.
Freshman Sarah Spirito said, “There are so many things wrong with the world, and animal trafficking is one. Why do people do it? To make money I guess…but the way they profit from the suffering of these animals is horrific. It needs to stop, or at least be minimized. I think that these companies will help solve this issue, and that they will be able to do something by using their influence to educate their customers.”
If this cooperative effort is successful between the large companies and the USWTA, illegal animal trafficking has a better chance of being reduced.
How might you be able make a difference in stopping animal trafficking?