According to a study done recently, the illegal jaguar trade is on an ever-increasing rise and the main reason seems to be Chinese investment in the Central and Southern parts of America. Jaguars are already on the verge of extinction because of threats like deforestation, habitat loss, and farmers shooting them by labeling them as a threat to their cattle. As if these weren’t enough, illegal trade has left only a population of 173000 of these wild cats.
Jaguars have been killed for the past years mainly to smuggle their teeth, skins, and skulls to China. A staggering 800 jaguars suffered this disgusting fate, and it is not known how many shipments may have gone unreported. Conservationists have noticed that the trade has increased steeply only in recent years, and they conclude that new Chinese immigrants, rather than the old settled communities, have a hand in this.
Before 2010, it was tigers which had a central commercial place. There are proper farms and breeding grounds for tigers in China since they are considered an extremely valuable animal. Their bones are used to make wine, carcasses used for medicinal ointments and skin for furniture, clothing and accessorizing commodities. The possessor of such items flaunted his wealth and position in society. Hunting wild tigers is thought to be more of an extravagance because of its rareness and taboo.
According to the new study, Jaguar teeth are the most priceless parts going to China. They are not exactly a substitute for tigers, but valuable all the less. Since much attention has not been paid to this crime of illegal wildlife product shipment, it is difficult to conclude an exact figure for the crime. Researchers and conservationists are also confused about the fate of these smuggled animal products once they reach China since insight into economic data and consumer records is still under observation.
Chinese investment in Latin America is predicted to grow, so now is high time to raise voices against it. Fighting corruption and reducing the demand for jaguar products by awareness is crucial. Lessons should be learned from the tiger decline. “What difference is it filling one more container with bones?” Vincent Njiman, the co-author of the paper, says.
Aniqa Mazhar is a graduate of QAU in Biochemistry. She has taught sciences to O levels and is currently planning for her MS in Food Technology. Aniqa’s hobbies are reading, watching movies, writing, calligraphy, long walks, and nature photography.