About the Author: Billie Gross is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.View Video
...Because he knows that many animal species are being threatened by a bounty on their heads, furs, skins, feathers, teeth, tusks, and bones. Don’t be fooled, that attractive-looking belt or ivory necklace could have been procured illegally by poachers.
The illicit trade in wildlife is a growing black market that amounts to at least $10 billion a year globally and is an even greater threat to wildlife than the loss of their habitat. Many of the animals currently being captured, killed and trafficked are at the brink of extinction, and the demand for these goods is pushing these creatures ever closer to the edge. This demand creates imbalances among the animal species, which can lead to greater impacts on the human species.
Today, as part of World Environment Day, the U.S. State Department held a launch event promoting three Public Service Announcements (PSAs) featuring Indiana Jones himself - Harrison Ford. The PSAs, which aim to combat the illegal trade in wildlife, were introduced by the Secretary of State's Special Envoy on Wildlife Trafficking, actress Bo Derek. (Yes, the actress from 10 and Tommy Boy is keenly interested in saving animal species from extinction.)
The event hosted at the United Nation by Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science Claudia A. McMurray included senior representatives from the five partner nations in the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking as well as non-governmental partner organizations.
The PSA's were launched globally and are already airing in Brazil, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau and Suriname. Public events are planned or underway in over thirty countries to highlight this growing issue and to spread awareness of the problem.
The United States is the second-largest market after China for consumption and demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products. Thus, these PSAs are aimed not only at a global audience, but also much closer to home.
It is my hope that future generations won’t need to learn about tigers or elephants simply from books or computer simulations, but will be able to see them alive and well, roaming the earth in their natural habitat. If we don’t stop the consumption, for many of these majestic creatures, it may already be too late. After all, considering the costs, we don't really need a coral necklace or a bowl of shark fin soup, do we?