Today is World Rhino Day for all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. Rhinos are been slaughtered at an alarming rate making them one of the most endangered species on earth. A Royal Forestry Department Officer holds a rhino skull at the Bharatpur barracks in Nepal. The stockpile of items is 5 years old and the value is an estimated $750,000 US. From the Trading to Extinction book project. www.tradingtoextinction.com Photo by Patrick Brown © 2014 Panos Pictures
From the pristine jungles of Cambodia to the great national parks of India and Nepal, Asian wildlife is being plundered on an unprecedented scale. Every year, it is estimated that up to 30,000 primates, 5 million birds, 10 million reptile skins and 500 million tropical fish are traded. The wildlife business is the third largest illegal trade in the world, rivalled only by guns and drugs. Strong beliefs in obscure parts of traditional Chinese medicine have driven this development. According to ancient custom, animal parts are imbued with ‘magical’ properties. Some believe, for example, that eating the flesh of a tiger will make them strong. Despite scientific studies proving such superstitions wrong, the trade in animals and animal parts continues largely unchecked, fuelled by desire, greed and corruption. The problem seems insurmountable; one way of curbing the rampant killing and decreasing the demand for rare animals is to educate future generations and counter antiquated and false believes.