By Jacob Maslow — Branded Content 

All kinds of illegal trades occur in the United States and across the globe. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people have created markets for unethical diamonds to exotic plants, animals, and even people. One such illegal trade market is the Illegal Wildlife trade. It’s a terrible industry, but stopping it isn’t impossible.

If you’re wondering what you can do about Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, read on. 

What is the Illegal Wildlife Trade?

Wildlife trade refers to the sale of non-domesticated flora or fauna that have been taken from their natural habitat or brought up in controlled settings, either alive or dead. However, illegal wildlife trafficking goes a step further. This term refers to environmental crimes involving the unlawful trading, smuggling, poaching, capture, or harvesting of endangered animals, protected wildlife, and the products those animals may create.

Why Does the Wildlife Trade Exist?

Some people prefer to exploit animals illegally for personal or financial gain. Unfortunately, this sad occurrence isn’t something that rarely happens; the illegal wildlife trade is more widespread than you may think. This activity occurs when people trade live or dead animals, their by-products, and body parts.

In many cases, this trade happens when one person trades a commodity for the said animal products. For example, someone might sell their bicycle or car for valuable ivory material from elephants’ tusks. Usually, the trade is initiated by someone who desires to own said animal products.

Is Poaching a Massive Problem?

As previously mentioned, this trade is no small industry. As a whole, wildlife trade activity exploits hundreds of millions of animals and plants each year. While much of this activity is legal, those who go beyond legal bounds contribute to the growing reality of extinction for many species.

Is this trade actually responsible for the decline of these species? In the year 1970 and 2000, animal populations worldwide decreased by forty percent. Concern over wildlife trade is not only a matter of protecting animals; it’s a matter of livelihood, too.

You’re probably familiar that water and oxygen are necessary for many parts of human life. These elements of the planet we live on sustain a balance that allows humankind to thrive. When species of plants and animals go extinct, that affects the quality of life for humans.

Those who live in rural environments often depend on animals and local plants for food, transportation, and medicine. Many who live in more developed nations may have trouble recognizing how animal and plant extinction could directly affect people’s lives, but these are critical factors.

The Most Trafficked Animals

As mentioned, animals make up a significant portion of the Illegal Wildlife Trade. While extinction is already a massive problem these animals face, the poaching and unethical treatment of these species is another unfortunate factor in this trade. 

Some animals are more susceptible to trafficking and illegal poaching than others. Keep reading to get an idea of how poachers exploit these animals and to learn about the future of ending poaching.


Many people have probably never heard of pangolins, but that doesn’t change that this animal is one of the most trafficked animals worldwide. This animal finds its home across Asia and Africa, and it looks similar to an armadillo. It’s an ant and termite-eating mammal, and it has unique scales all over its body.

Poachers seek out this highly trafficked animal to use its scales in traditional medicine and for its meat. It’s an animal in high demand, which may explain why over 20 million pangolins are prey to poaching each year.


You may be aware that the ivory material from elephant tusks is quite valuable. But did you know that trading ivory has been illegal since 1990? As a result, African elephants are a target for many traffickers who hope to make money on their tusks. As a result, poachers kill nearly 30,000 African elephants each year, which could lead to their extinction in the future.


Tigers are beautiful animals that command respect with their sharp teeth and claws. Unfortunately, many traffickers find value in trading tiger claws, teeth, skin, and other body parts at over 200 farms across Asia. There is also a tourist trade market for tigers. Some sources estimate that there are more tigers in captivity today than roaming in the wild. 


Not all wildlife trade is illegal. Still, the effects of legal and illegal wildlife trade pose severe concerns for the ecosystem and humankind. However, there is still hope for achieving Zero poaching in the future if communities, organizations, and authorities can use their resources and cooperate for the greater good. You can do your part by being aware of poaching and wildlife trade’s effects and ecological consequences. 

Photo Courtesy // Jacob Maslow