Sunday 6 October 2019

Global wildlife trade higher than was thought

By Helen Briggs BBC News

At least one in five vertebrate species on Earth are bought and sold on the wildlife market, according to a study.

Scientists from universities in the US and UK, who jointly analysed data collated on a range of species, say they are "astounded" by the figure.

They point out that it is about 50% higher than previous estimates.

The wildlife trade - in the likes of horns, ivory and exotic pets - is the number one cause of animal extinction, tied only with land development.

Prof David Edwards of the University of Sheffield, a co-researcher on the study, said: "The sheer diversity of species being traded is astounding - the risk that that will grow is very worrying," said Prof David Edwards of the University of Sheffield, a co-researcher on the study.

The study, published in Science, identified hotspots for traded birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles in regions within the Andes mountain range and Amazon rainforest, sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and Australia.

The research also identified another 3,000 or so species that look set to be traded in the future, based on their similarities with animals currently bought and sold - for example if they have bright plumage or exotic horns.

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