When you hear the words “animal trafficking,” you most likely think about poachers, elephant ivory, exotic pets, and illegal furs, skins, and horns. This is completely understandable since there is a lot of concern about poachers hunting down endangered species for material goods at the cost of animal lives. Some poachers actually capture animals for sale on the black market as exotic pets or for illegal testing/experimentation. What you might NOT think about is: When animals are rescued from poachers and traffickers, where do they go?
An article in the New York times, published in February, discusses animal trafficking in Thailand and all the effort that occurs AFTER an animal is rescued. Some of the animals rescued include: turtles from Madagascar, Marmoset Monkeys from South American, baby sun bears, exotic birds, and tiger cubs. As officials capture traffickers and prevent illegal sale, these animals have to go somewhere. Especially when 46,000 animals were rescued in the last two years alone (which, horrifically is more than twice the amount of animals from the previous two years.) So…where do the animals go?
Some animals go to the Khao Pratubchang Wildlife Breeding Center in the Ratchaburi Province. In October, 16 malnourished tiger cubs were taken in by the breeding center and required 24-hour care from the workers. The Center houses 45 other tigers, 10 leopards, and 13 other small felines. The tiger cubs are down the lane from 11 orangutans (rescued as babies from a resort island) and a pregnant Fea’s Muntjac deer (who is recovering from a bullet wound from a hunter.) Similar rescued animals have to be spread across many wildlife centers due to sheer numbers. A center in Bangkok houses more than 400 moneys, while a center in the Chonburi Province houses 99 bears. Living quarters is one concern for the rescued animals…feeding them is another matter entirely.
The Wildlife Breeding Center orders one ton of chicken every week. The government centers across Thailand have a budget of about 57, 000 dollars a month. The Department of National Parks has a charity fund with donations from celebrities and wealthy Thais.
Some of the animals can be released back into the wild, such as some monkeys, snakes, and pangolins. However, other animals need to be raised in captivity. The rescued tiger cubs cannot be released back into the wild since captive tigers often lack the necessary predatory instinct to survive. Some animals cannot be moved due to health complications or concerns over safety.
“Hooray! We saved another life from the black market. This animals will never be a mistreated exotic pet. This tiger will receive the care it deserves!” Of course, where are they going to receive that care and what happens to them afterwards? With the sheer number of rescued animals in Thailand alone, it is difficult to imagine how many animals are being shipped around the world every day for illegal sale.
More information: http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/category/wildlife-smuggling/