WCS Unveils ‘State of the Wild’

WCS has just released “State of the Wild” a 300-plus-page compendium of wildlife facts, figures and issues affecting the survival of wild species worldwide.

The main focus of this year’s book (WCS plans to make this a bi-annual publication) is the range and scope of hunting and wildlife trade -- a rapidly developing and wide-ranging story. The book features essays and articles written by George Schaller, Ted Kerasote, Carl Safina, Eric Gilman and other noted conservation writers and leaders.

CONTACT: Stephen Sautner: 718-220-3683; [email protected]

One of the greatest and growing conservation threats today is the multi-billion dollar illegal trade in wildlife, a global enterprise surpassed only by the trafficking of weapons and drugs, according to a new publication by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), State of the Wild 2006.

State of the Wild, published by Island Press, is the first single, authoritative source for in-depth information on the health of the natural world, and the 2006 edition devotes one-third to the wildlife trade.

“Today, anything large enough to be eaten or lucrative enough to be sold is hunted on a massive scale for its meat, skin, fur or feathers, for the pet trade, or as an ingredient in traditional medicines,” says Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, director for WCS’s Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program and one of several WCS contributors to State of the Wild. “Wildlife populations are crashing, and wild areas increasingly are losing their wildlife, becoming devoid of vibrancy and life.”

State of the Wild quantifies the dilemma and scale of wildlife trade and related issues. Here are some numbers involving wildlife that are being hunted, traded, and eaten into extinction:

- Increase in number of animal species classified as threatened by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) since 1996: 2,061 (from 5,205 to 7,266)

- Number of quarter-pound hamburgers that would equal conservative estimates of Central Africa’s yearly wild meat harvest: 9 billion

- Number of people whose protein needs 1 square mile (2.59 square kilometers) of tropical forest can sustainably support with wild meat: 2.5

- Number of people per square mile living in remaining forests: in Latin America, 17 (46 per square kilometer); Central Africa, 38 (99 per square kilometer); Southeast Asia, 190 (502 per square kilometer)

- Number of seahorses caught yearly for traditional Asian medicine: 18 to 21.6 million

- Number of animals imported to the United States in 2002: over 38,000 mammals, 365,000 birds, 2 million reptiles, 49 million amphibians, and 216 million fish

- Average number of items advertised on eBay per week as elephant ivory from February to May 2004: 1,000

- Decline from 1979 to 1989 in numbers of African elephants that were killed largely for the then illegal ivory trade: between 600,000 and 1.3 million

- Estimated annual worth of criminal/illegal wildlife trade: about $6 billion

- Number of primates legally imported into the United States as pets or research animals between 1995 and 2002: 99,939

- Percentage of tropical birds and reptiles that die during transport for the exotic pet trade: up to 80

- Percentage of tropical bone imports between 1970 and 1993 by East Asian countries from other parts of Asia: at least 10 tons

- Approximate number of animals 10 tons of tiger bone represents: between 500 and 1,000 animals

- Estimated number of tigers left in the wild: under 5,000

- Estimated number of captive tigers living in the United States: 5,000 to 7,000

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has produced an up-to-date and in-depth assessment on some of the most pressing problems facing humans and the natural world. Written for a popular audience, State of the Wild 2006 brings together some of the top researchers, writers and thinkers in the field of conservation biology, reviewing the history of current state of complex ecological issues with the intent of promoting discussions and developing solutions to conservation problems.

Much of the leading-edge information on the array of conservation issues in State of the Wild 2006 is based upon rigorous science supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society. WCS saves wildlife and wild lands worldwide through science, global conservation, education, and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.

Published: 26 Jan 2006

Contact details:

Bronx Zoo
Bronx, NY 10460

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