Wildlife Trafficking Threatens Species’ Survival

It is a beautiful, balmy early fall Sunday morning. Church service and choir practice are over, and we are driving to our secluded home some four miles from the village.

Suddenly it’s wedged against the windshield’s wiper blade. At the first convenient spot I pull over and stop. Lois quickly gets out and, oh so gently, lifts it from the rubber blade. She carries it across the road and places it on top of a metal mailbox.

The beautiful monarch butterfly flutters its wings and then gracefully flies off. We watch it land on a fat milkweed pod left uncut on the farmer’s fence line.

As simple country people we knew that this colorful wonder would soon begin its amazing journey, often across the Gulf of Mexico and many thousands of miles, to its winter home some 60 miles west of Mexico City. We silently pray for its safety.

We are, like many of you, passionate stewards of our awesome living inheritance. We want in our brief earthly stay to somehow help pass on this incredible trove to future generations. Tragically, however, there are powerful adversaries of this finite inheritance who believe only in greed and destruction. They are our planet’s second-greatest threat.

A little publicized, but tremendously dangerous, far-reaching threat to planetary life is the worldwide illegal wildlife trafficking. A highly profitable, black market, multi-billion dollar industry is quietly placing the fate of countless flora and fauna in dire peril. This illegal wildlife business is second only to habitat destruction as a global threat to species’ survival — and ultimately ours as well.

Famous Harvard University biologist E.O. Wilson has said that species destruction has reached a critical level that rivals the catastrophic extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. That extinction rate, according to Wilson, is 1,000 times above normal. By the end of the 21st century, we could lose 50 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity.

Many other blue-ribbon studies and scholars concur. One study concluded that already 22 percent of all plants and 20 percent of the world’s vertebrates are in immediate danger of extinction.

Each one of us is in some way(s) the culprit and ultimately the victim of this totally irrational destruction of the life that makes it possible for mankind’s continuing existence on this extremely fragile, finite and lonely planet. Scholars agree that we are precariously close to the tipping point of biodiversity losses. Illegal wildlife trafficking is seriously intensifying this horrible greedy manifestation of mankind’s baser proclivities.

How tragic and ironic that mankind is the only planetary inhabitant that knowingly is seemingly bent on destroying forever our finite and life sustaining biodiversity before, in many instances, it have been discovered.

In each of our hands rests the ultimate fate of our planet. We must act vigorously and now. We must hold personally accountable the decision-makers. Ask each of them what specifically are they doing to protect the endangered flora and fauna. We must all press and push them to action before it’s too late.

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