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Wild animals - Illegal trade

Animals affected

Birds, Reptiles, Fishes, Amphibians, Mammals, Arthropods






75% of total trade in wild animals is illegal. That’s why the black market in wild animals worldwide is in third place on the list of organised crime based on the volume of business, after drugs and arms.

The animals used in trafficking are captured in their natural habitat or they are bred in captivity in illegal farms, later they are sold as animals or parts of animals (fur, tusks, etc.).

This illegal trafficking has a huge impact on the populations of the different species. Many of the species which are traded are now threatened (like chimpanzees or turtles) or even in danger of extinction (like the Asian elephant, the Barbary macaque or the Bengal tiger).

South America is the leading exporter worldwide of reptiles and parrots, and the second largest exporter of primates. 30% of illegal trade in exotic animals passes through Spain. This is because the most important entry point to Europe for the illegal trafficking of animals coming from the whole of South America and North Africa is Spain, from where they are re-exported to the rest of the European continent. Spain is the second largest exporter of reptiles in the European Union, after Germany.

30% of illegal trade of exotic animals worldwide comes through Spain.

It is estimated that only 1 in every 10 animals captured for trade from its natural habitat survives. This is due to the method of capture and the deplorable conditions of transportation. Traps, nets and even firearms are used by poachers. In order to move the poached animals traffickers use any means of transport, forging documents, hiding the animals behind merchandise or among legal animals, even sedating and hiding the animals in any way that they will go unnoticed (inside suitcases, bottles, boxes, socks, etc.).

As has already been mentioned above, it is not only whole animals which are smuggled, it may often be just parts of them. Furs, tusks, organs and bones are sold for clothing, consumption, decoration or traditional Chinese medicine. In Africa hundreds of rhinos and elephants are killed each year for their tusks and horns. These animals are in serious danger of extinction.

Furthermore, these days the internet has strengthened illegal trade. Traffickers are using e-commerce or social media more and more. Online sales and exchange platforms, such as MilAnuncios.com, are used by companies, such as illegal or private breeders, to sell many wild animals illegally.   


Our action

  • We investigate cases of illegal trade in wild animals. This maybe online, in shops, by large companies or by individuals.
  • We investigate illegal private ownership of wildlife, as well as the legality and conditions and wellbeing of animals in different zoological centres holding wild and dangerous animals in Catalonia.
  • We lobby politicians in order to restrict trade in wild animals and even to ban it.
  • We report cases of illegal ownership of wild animals, illegal trade or abuse.
  • We help to relocate and rescue wild animals that have been abandoned, found or seized.
  • We put pressure on the authorities so that they fulfil their obligations: making them enforce the law, carry out inspections, impose punishments, create new laws, etc.

What can you do?

  • Report cases of abuse, trade and illegal breeding or illegal ownership of wild animals to the authorities.
  • Inform the welfare associations.
  • Let your family and friends know about the problems associated with the ownership of wild animals and trading in them.
  • Demand the creation of centres of recuperation of non-native wild animals
  • Never buy a wild animal.
  • If you want to own a wild animal and you want to help, adopt a wild animal that has been abandoned and which has been offered up for adoption by an animal welfare centre (such as La Madriguera, APAEC, EriSOS, etc.). Adoption should always be after you have learnt about the needs of that particular species and recognising the responsibility that goes with owning an animal.
  • Volunteer or collaborate with an animal protection association.

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