World Environment Day (WED) is observed annually on 5 June to raise awareness of issues such as marine pollution, global warming and wildlife crime. The day aims to encourage people to protect nature and our planet. This year's theme – Go Wild for Life – focuses on the illegal trade in wildlife.
Poaching, smuggling and the booming illegal trade in wildlife products are eroding Earth's precious biodiversity, driving entire species to the brink of extinction. Between 2010 and 2014, an estimated 100,000 African elephants were killed, out of a total population of under half a million. In 2011, a subspecies of Javan rhino went extinct in Vietnam, and the last western black rhinos vanished from Cameroon. Great apes have disappeared from Gambia, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, and other countries could quickly follow. The most commonly trafficked mammal in the world is thought to be the pangolin – more than a million are taken from the wild every year, destined for dinner tables and for use in Chinese medicine.
Efforts to counter the illicit trade – including stronger policies, awareness campaigns and investments in community conservation and law enforcement – have scored some great successes. However, many species remain at risk and it will take a dedicated and sustained effort by each and every one of us to turn the tide. More awareness and action pushes governments and international bodies to introduce and enforce tougher laws and combat those still willing to break them.
IBTimes UK presents 30 photos that show the sometimes horrifying effects of the illicit trade in wildlife. 1 June 2016: Thai wildlife officers collect samples for DNA testing from the carcasses of 40 tiger cubs and a binturong (also known as a bearcat) found at the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand. Wildlife authorities raided the Buddhist temple where 137 tigers were kept, following accusations the monks were illegally breeding and trafficking endangered animals Dario Pignatelli/Getty Images 23 May 2016: Stuffed Sumatran tigers, ivory and other wildlife trophies seized during recent raids are set on fire by Indonesian officials in Banda Aceh as part of their campaign to fight illegal poaching Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP 20 Amy 2016: A dehorned rhinoceros, left to die by poachers, is seen with bandages and stitches after being treated by South African veterinarians on a ranch in Bela Bela, some 150km north of Johannesburg Mujahid Safodien/AFP 30 April 2016: Kenya Wildlife Services rangers stand guard around illegal stockpiles of burning elephant tusks, ivory figurines and rhinoceros horns at the Nairobi National Park. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to the world's biggest ivory bonfire, after demanding a total ban on trade in tusks and horns to end 'murderous' trafficking and prevent the extinction of elephants in the wild Carl de Souza/AFP 7 April 2016: Recovered endangered newborn Punjab urials are seen in an enclosure at a zoo in Lahore. A pair of local policemen were accused of kidnapping them Arif Ali/AFP 29 March 2016: Smuggled elongated tortoises are seen after being confiscated by Cambodian authorities in Kandal Province AFP 11 December 2015: A baby red howler monkey kisses a volunteer at the Santa Fe zoo in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia. Nine monkeys that were are torn away from their families in the forests and sold by traffickers to travellers within the country, were released into the wild Raul Arboleda/AFP 9 November 2015: A baby orangutan lies in a plastic crate, after it was seized from a wildlife trafficking syndicate which was attempting to smuggle out three orangutan babies, ranging between six to 12 months of age, at a police office in Pekanbaru, Riau province, Indonesia Reuters 19 October 2015: Two baby orangutans play with each other at the wildlife department in Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia. They were found in duffel bags and seized from traffickers who were attempting to sell them to buyers in Malaysia Olivia Harris/Reuters 27 August 2015: A two-year-old orangutan hugs its mother at Kao Pratubchang Conservation Centre in Ratchaburi, Thailand. Authorities confiscated 14 orangutans from entertainment businesses in Phuket province Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters 10 August 2015: The confiscated skin and teeth of a critically endangered Sumatran tiger are displayed at a police station in Banda Aceh. Indonesian police arrested four men for allegedly killing the Sumatran tiger and trying to sell its body parts Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP 4 May 2015: A policeman holds one of 22 water bottles, each with a yellow-crested cockatoo inside it, at the customs office of Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia Reuters 8 January 2015: Long-tailed macaque babies are seen inside a basket, in Changsha, Hunan province, as police seized a truck smuggling at least 100 of them from Vietnam to China Reuters 24 December 2014: An Indonesian conservation of natural resources agency official lends a hand to Riska, a six-year-old orangutan that had been kept for two years in a warehouse in Leupung, Aceh Besar district, Indonesia Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP 12 August 2014: An orphaned baby elephant feeds itself on World Elephant Day, at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, at the Nairobi National Park in Kenya Simon Maina/AFP 17 December 2013: A volunteer carries a baby red howler monkey during its recovery at the Santa Fe zoo, in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia. Eight monkeys that were torn away from their families in the forests and sold by traffickers to travellers within the country, were released into the wild. Red howler monkeys are an endangered species, which makes them attractive to wildlife traders Raul Arboleda/AFP 24 July 2013: A pair of Indian parrot hatchlings embrace in Dimapur, after being caught in a forest by a local hunter and offered for sale in the north-eastern Indian state of Nagaland AFP 19 June 2013: A white lion lies in a cage at a house on the outskirts of Bangkok, where more than 200 live wild animals including 14 white lions were discovered. Police said the lions were believed to have been brought into the country using permits for sales to zoos, but instead offered to private buyers. Thailand has a reputation as a hub of international wildlife smuggling to feed strong demand in Asia for unusual pets and traditional medicines made from animal parts Christophe Archambault/AFP 21 April 2013: An orphaned baby elephant plays in the mud at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery within Nairobi National Park. The orphanage cares for baby elephants and sometimes baby rhinos which have been orphaned by poachers, or lost or abandoned through natural causes Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters 7 September 2012: Customs officials weigh seized smuggled rhinoceros horns at the port terminal in Manila. Philippine port authorities seized 8.5kg of horn from Mozambique, hidden inside sacks of cashew nuts AFP 31 July 2012: A rescued baby pangolin is released in the forest by government wildlife and conservation officer in Karo district located in North Sumatra province. Indonesian police intercepted 85 endangered pangolins stuffed into sacks at a bus station in the city of Medan AFP 15 February 2012: Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks officers display tiger skins confiscated from a man trying to smuggle them over the border, in Malaysia's northern Kedah state AFP 7 October 2011: This five-week-old lion cub was rescued by Animals Lebanon from a balcony in Beirut where it was kept as a pet, after being smuggled into Lebanon from Syria Jamal Saidi/Reuters 20 May 2011: A couple of spider monkeys that were found on a bus inside a bag with three dead monkeys rest in a hammock at the Federal Wildlife Conservation Centre on the outskirts of Mexico City Carlos Jasso/Reuters 15 May 2011: Animal Outreach Officer Bridget Tighe plays with Muna, a three-year-old cheetah, at the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort in the United Arab Emirates. The cheetah and her brother Puppy were found at the Saudi-UAE border when someone tried to smuggle them into the country Jumana El-Heloueh/Reuters 14 June 2010: A four-month-old baby orangutan is cared for at the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine run by Orangutan Foundation International in Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia. It was rescued by wildlife authorities from villagers who were keeping orangutans as pets and for the wildlife trade AFP 26 April 2009: A Congolese conservationist looks after a baby female gorilla rescued from traffickers at Goma airport, hidden under clothes in the bottom of a bag Gorilla.cd/ICCN/Reuters 22 May 2007: A monkey is kept in a cage for sale at an animal market in Jakarta, Indonesia Ahmad Zamroni/AFP 21 November 2006: A Thai wildlife official carries an orangutan to a cage so that it can be repatriated to Indonesia. Nearly 50 smuggled orangutans were rescued from a Thai amusement park in one of the world's largest cases of great ape trafficking Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters 15 February 2005: Rescued baby chimpanzees are fed in a quarantine cage at the Kenya Wildlife Services headquarters in Nairobi, after six of them were found crammed into a crate at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta airport Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
To find out what you can to to help crack down on animal smuggling, go to the
World Environment Day 2016 website.