I like to read different news stories that come up through out the day. I have certain topics that I’m passionate about besides Mental Health, Abuse, and Addiction.
One topic I am interested in is Endangered Species. My father has always loved birds and has had a vast knowledge of them. All of it self taught. He applied for and received a license from the Government to breed birds that were either on the cusp of being endangered or already listed as endangered. He had remarkable success in increasing the numbers of species that even some of the largest zoos couldn’t. He would then donate them to the zoos with the best breeding programs and reputations. He would personally bring them there to inspect where they would be living. My father passed this passion for wildlife down to me.
I also read about poachers and the wildlife trade. It’s slow going when it comes to monitoring and changing the way things are. There are not enough resources and the people living in these areas are scared to say the least.
There is a widely held belief that most poachers are locals desperate for money. There are some that fit this criteria but as the business grows so has the ingenuity of the poachers and their networks. They’ve become more militarized and connected to transnational organized-crime syndicates. One U.S. government official had this to say about the poaching networks “they are the most hard-core criminals that exist today. They are the same people who trade in humans, drugs and weapons”.
I thought I had a firm opinion on this subject but it isn’t as clear cut as I thought. Poaching and the Wildlife trade are linked to other crimes that we just can’t ignore.
Human Trafficking is defined as “Sex trafficking in which a commercial (money) sex act is induced by force, fraud, coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age. Also “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt, bondage, or slavery.
A victim does not need to be physically transported from one location to another for it to be trafficking.
The United Nations came up with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children (Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime).
There were countries that just refused to participate. When I first skimmed over the list I wasn’t too surprised. When I went back over it and found some of these places are the top vacation spots for people in the U.S. I was angry.
Here is the list of countries refusing to participate in stopping Human Trafficking
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- South Sudan
- Republic of Congo
- Marshall Islands
For those that do participate there is a Tier System that you are rated on. Tier 3 is the lowest. It says you do not meet the standards and don’t care. Believe me Tier 1 isn’t anything to celebrate either. All Tier 1 suggests is that you meet the minimum standards for eliminating Trafficking and trying harder than the others.
Here are the TIER 3 PLACES:
The total number of IDENTIFIED VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING FOR 2015 was 78,823 men, women, and children.
This number ONLY reflects those that were identified. Unfortunately it is estimated to be much, much higher. Human Traffickers prey after the weak, impoverished, and vulnerable. People without families to report them missing or families so poor they think they are sending their child to have a better life. In reality they are sending their child into a short life of sex work or hard labor. The mentally incapacitated are also at risk. Other countries sometimes see these people as bad luck and they are forced to live on the outskirts of society. This is where they fall victim to traffickers who use them for hard labor.
Most of these places are the same areas that show up for Wildlife Trafficking. Russia being one of the largest. I’ll put my 2 cents in here. Putin’s abhorrent pictures of himself with his hunting rifle and dead animals that were maybe killed by him or maybe “tranquilized for veterinary care”( before being mounted on his wall) is enough for me to understand what the U.N. is up against.
There is also the problem of trying to change a country’s cultural belief system that they’ve passed on for hundreds of years. If you were told a cat’s gallbladder would work better than any type of Viagra and was like the Fountain of Youth from the time you could walk and so were all of your surrounding friends and neighbors, wouldn’t you believe it? If you knew the information had come from your great great grandparents and their friends and neighbors would that sway you? It’s difficult because we don’t live there. We have our own customs and rituals that I’m sure they find odd. We also still test on quite a few animals. We also hunt for sport. We aren’t completely innocent. We’ve hunted certain species into near extinction. Not for food to sustain your family, but to show off your virility.
Wildlife Trade and Trafficking is a $15 to 23 Billion dollar a year industry. It’s extremely hard to get people to give up that kind of revenue. It’s the kind worth killing for and they have. Park Rangers in Africa have to face poachers who are armed with military grade weapons. The Rangers have to use what they can to protect themselves and the animals. There isn’t enough funding or Rangers to properly do the job. The Park Rangers have a connection with the their land and the animals. They put their lives on the line. In the last decade more than 1,000 Park Rangers were killed doing their job.
Wildlife Trade and Trafficking has been linked to weapons dealing. The U.N. secretary general issued a report connecting Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and elephant poaching. The State Department considers wildlife trafficking as an “acute security threat”.
How do we protect the people living in areas surrounding these animals? How do we protect the impoverished, vulnerable, and weak from falling prey to Human Traffickers? How do we stop the weapons from being traded? I really don’t have any answers. I do know that there is a huge genre of tourism for men who want to spend time with an underage child in another country. I remember a news program doing an undercover story on it. It might have been 60 minutes. It was I believe a Heart Surgeon paying to go to Thailand for the purpose of staying at a resort that catered to his tastes. Pre-pubescent boys. The news crew had everything on film and confronted him when he landed back in the U.S. He didn’t say much. I remember being upset because the police were not involved. Probably because the crime had taken place in another country. We need to find ways to stop people like this from taking these “vacations”. He was one of thousands that belonged to a “special” group. The News show caught up with him a year later. He was taking another trip.
It’s frustrating when you feel helpless. It isn’t a feeling I like at all.
These Falcons rescued in Pakistan are worth around $9,700 each.