The international animal trade is thriving, and smugglers are illegally hunting, buying and selling species ranging from Tigers to Turtles.
Depending on the species, the animals are sold either alive or dead. Buyers are looking for strange animals for a plethora of reasons. Some seek exotic animals, such as big cats and rare parrots, for pets. Others believe that certain animal parts have medicinal properties.
In the Philippines, for example, the government has just issued an official statement condemning the sale of geckos, which many south Asians believe will cure diseases as diverse asthma and AIDS. Although illegal, the lizard-smuggling business is booming in the Philippines. An 11-ounce gecko can be sold for more than 50,000 pesos ($1,160) on the black market.
The use of geckos as treatments has no scientific basis and could be dangerous because patients might not seek proper treatment for their diseases, a Health Department statement said.
For diseases like asthma, there are now very effective treatments that are easily available and at affordable prices that can provide relief from asthma. With regular treatment, asthmatics can successfully control asthmatic symptoms and live a comfortable, healthy life, the DOH said.
Many of the other species on sale are either endangered or protected, or both. Small turtles and crocodiles fetch thousands of dollars in Thailand, for example, and the international Ivory trade is well documented, but still rampant.