BOOKS: Black Market: Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:

Black Market: Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia by Ben Davies
EarthAware Editions (17 Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903), 2005.
173 pages, paperback. $29.95.

A pictorial account of the trade in Asian endangered species,
Ben Davies’ book Black Market is shocking, sickening and depressing,
yet also challenging, inspiring, well-researched, authentic, and
More than a harrowing litany of ghastly animal abuse, Black
Market offers some hope for the future by examining possible
responses, including the work done by dedicated conservationists and
animal advocates.

Not only the number of bears saved by Jill Robinson’s Animals
Asia Foundation, for example, measures the value of her work. Of
greater importance is the impact of her efforts in eroding the
culture of killing and consuming wildlife, including by helping to
empower local people who care about animals to undertake projects of
their own.
Eight years after opening the first sanctuary for bears
rescued from bile farms in China, now providing humane education to
thousands of young people each year, the Animals Asia Foundation in
mid-September 2006 signed an agreement with the Forest Protection
Department of Vietnam to build a similar bile farm bear rescue center
in Tam Dao National Park, outside Hanoi, to open in January 2007.
The rescue center will be able to handle only 200 of the
4,000 bears now kept on Vietnamese bile farms, Robinson acknowledged
to Hanoi-based freeland journalist Matt Steinglass, but she counts
on publicity about her work helping to bring about a faster end to a
practice which has in fact been illegal in Vietnam since 1992.
Davies quotes James Compton of the World Wildlife Fund trade
monitoring arm TRAFFIC, who describes newly affluent China as “a
giant vacuum cleaner emptying the whole region of wildlife resources”
to satisfy bizarre cravings for wild meat and body parts.
But acquisitive greed knows no national boundaries. Davies
cites Superintendent Andy Fisher, head of the Metro-politan Police
Wildlife Crime Unit at Scotland Yard, about the extent of the tiger
bone trade in London. He also mentions that “By the early 1990s
Taiwan had become the world’s centre for rhino-horn smuggling. It
had a stockpile estimated to total nine tons–equivalent to 3,700
dead rhinos–with a street value of $50 million. And the horns were
openly on sale.”
Despite the heroic efforts of Jill Robinson, Suwanna
Gauntlett of WildAid, and others, whose compassion shines like
flakes of gold, it is hard to avoid being overwhelmed by the scale
of the cruel destruction. –Chris Mercer

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