Humans have gone down a long unraveling path with technology full of eccentric ideas and failed attempts. From new cars to new phones, we always find ways to make our lives easier with emerging new products. One product in particular, the Internet, has become home to the world’s largest marketplace for illegal products on the black market. From endangered animals to extremely rare, freshly skinned fur, the internet nests a thriving network for these services like never before. The black market brings about immense opportunities for poachers to gain more power and most of all, money. Rachel Nuwer, a writer from Newsweek states that, “2 percent of wildlife populations around the world have disappeared since 1970, with overhunting being a major driver behind that decline. For some species, the study found, the illegal wildlife trade is now the primary threat, thanks to soaring demand for certain wildlife and animal-derived products. Elephants and rhinos are two stark examples of this” (Nuwer).
The demand for rhino horn in 2016 is so high that it sells for about $30,000 a pound. In comparison, gold is about $22,000 a pound, making ivory exceedingly more valuable than gold! Studies suggest that if this high demand continues, rhinos will extinct by 2020. Additionally, not only are we stripping the earth of its natural born creatures, we are killing them in the most unethical and inhumane ways. Cyanide, a deadly chemical mainly used as a gas, is becoming one of the most common ways to kill elephants and rhinos because it is cheap and does the job. It is no surprise however, that cyanide is also a widely sold drug on the black market. The black market is so intensely strong, that the Kenyan government recently announced that it was forming a team to aid against poachers. According to Business Insider writer and former social media consultant, Greg Voakes, “50% of the world’s working population is employed in the black market, meaning over 1.8 billion jobs” (Voakes). The black market has grown into a multi-trillion dollar industry and it is only growing more. Additionally, research states that, “If the black market was a sovereign nation, it would be the world’s second largest economic superpower.” (Voakes) The black market holds an immense amount of power in the lives of animals. The existence of such an industry serves as the number one threat to the lives of species on the brink of extinction.
Who is responsible for the existence of such a trade? Well, firstly, China is the largest consumer of illegal ivory with about 42 tones purchased every year. However, while we would like to believe that most of this happens across the world, it happens the most here in the United States. The Ivory trade in the U.S. is actually more than China. An Italian founder of the African Voices movement states that, “The most famous U.S. classified advertisements website Craigslist is selling yearly $15 millions of ivory objects according a report redacted by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).”
The majority of ivory trade happens over the internet. The internet serves as both a source of trade networking and research on what traders want. We are allowed to do research on what we are buying with just the click of a button. The Dark Web is a fragment of the Internet where users anonymously to sell objects such as child pornography guns, and drugs. Cringing right? Ironically, this part of the black market has a very low variety of animal fur, ivory, meat, etc., for sale because of the sole reason that: it is not strictly enforced. Traders are able to make their sales due to small “code names.” For example, elephant ivory is depicted as ‘ox bone’ on the black market. “Striped T-shirt” indicates tiger skin. These are mechanisms that allow traders to surpass investigators and get on with their money making.
The Black Market is one of the biggest money-making industries that this world has ever experienced. As the years go by, it only gets stronger and stronger. More people begin to join the movement of drug trafficking, gun selling, and poaching because of the ridiculous amount of profit they gain. This industry is only getting more powerful by each sale it is making. It serves as a gateway to an endless amount of illegal objects that should not be sold or heard of. How can we stop this? Well, by fighting against the black market and enacting sanctuaries for animals. Overpopulated countries like China make it easy for the black market to thrive because illegal trades can be made just about anywhere. It is a sad moment to humanity when hundreds of thousands of different species have gone and will go extinct because of us and not natural causes. It is mind bobbling that many humans cannot understand the interconnectivity between living things. However, the world has made great achievements with closing the ivory trade. In 2016, Hong Kong Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying announced his plan to ban the selling of ivory in Hong Kong. According to Jon Coulada, a semi-journalist, “This total ban is poised to make a significant impact, as Hong Kong displays for retail sale more elephant and mammoth ivory items than any other city in the world surveyed for ivory” (Comulada). It will be a great victory when the ivory trade plummets and animals of all species are able to roam free without any threats. Unfortunately, we are a long ways from that. We will definitely not stop until it is completely terminated.
Comulada, Jon. “Activists Are Celebrating as the World’s Biggest Ivory Market Officially Closes Its Doors.” Upworthy. Upworthy, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Nuwer, Rachel. “THE BLACK MARKET TRADE FOR ENDANGERED ANIMALS FLOURISHES ON THE WEB.” Newsweek. N.p., 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.