published on 16 February 2021 in life
New study of the impact of illegal trafficking on biodiversity
Illegal wildlife trade and trafficking is worth billions of dollars a year and is decimating many species, some of which are already threatened with extinction. Despite being a major problem for biodiversity, there is a lack of global understanding of the impact of illegal trafficking on wildlife species. Scientific research recently published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the first study to quantify the impact of illegal trafficking and legal trade in wildlife, fills some of these gaps. The scientists decided to calculate the combined impact of both legal and illegal activities because, from a conservationist perspective, they have identical effects: they take wildlife species away from their habitat. The study is based on a systematic review of relevant scientific literature, from which papers providing sufficient datasets were selected. The British researchers analysed these, comparing the data reported in literature with the population trends of those species in control sites, i.e. those not subject to legal or illegal harvesting.
The team of researchers from the University of Sheffield has mapped 133 species: what emerges from the study is that on average the decline of individuals for each species is 62%, but for some animals the trend is even more negative, up to as much as 99.9%.