The Illegal Business of Smuggling Animals
Smuggling illegally taking things into or out of a country. We hear stories about smuggling all the time smuggling drugs cash weapons diamonds. But one of the biggest categories of items smuggled is a little bit more exotic so to speak animals earlier this year, a suitcase was intercepted in the Philippines that contain fifteen hundred little turtles that had been smuggled in from China. They're estimated worth nearly ninety thousand dollars. Were they ninja turtles? No not. That was reported but I don't know. They were wrapped in duct tape in, like stuffed in shoes and stuff. They're so cute. They were like little, little guys, like the size of a hockey puck and also a man was caught smuggling seventy live birds through JFK in hair rollers and just a few weeks ago. There was this big bust in the Philippines. A man was caught trying to smuggle seven hundred and fifty tarantulas estimated value around six thousand dollars in a box of cook. Ke's by the way, I'm not gonna eat cookies now. Right spider cooking opening a box. Scrawl scout cookies tarantulas Papa that he's not a thing you can get over. This is indicated from planet money. I'm garcia. And I'm Stacey Vanik Smith today on the show, animal smuggling the market for animal smuggling is actually pretty new, but it's not really big really fast, and it's having a major impact on species survival. And on the planet's, ecosystem. Support for this podcast. In the following message come from Jim Nye, the regulated exchange making it easy to add bitcoin, and other crypto currencies to your portfolio. Protecting your investments with oversight and state of the art cybersecurity open a free account at Jim ni- dot com slash indicator. Support also comes from fund rise, the future of real estate. Investing access private market real estate projects from high rises in DC to multifamily apartments in LA. Get your first three months of fees waived at fund rise dot com slash indicator Sergio and weekends is with the international union for conservation of nature in London, he and his colleagues spend a lot of time trying to address animal trafficking, and on intercepting smugglers, Serio himself specializes in spiders, and scorpions. So how do you feel about spiders? I feel great. I only ask, because I feel like I have mixed feelings about spiders, might looking at them in the wrong way, people feel that an Arthur, bud life being an insect life or spider life isn't as valuable. So you don't appreciate its right to live as much, but I don't think cuddling sore Fluck Innis should be a criteria for conservation. What do you do? When you see a spider in your apartment recently, I found in my bedroom. I give it a drink at a little bowl of water for it. Yes, I did. I. Dehydrated. So she was very happy. And she was a female. She was very happy to drink from it. I thought about, you know, should I find insect and give it food, but it looked well, put outside and bent on its way. And I think it's doing well now how do you recognize when spidery dehydrates training for an upcoming fight or something like that? And it's like, hey, Waterberg water break and being a spider insurgence apartment is good fighter less good. We wanted to talk to Sergio about the cookie Bach seizure. The seven hundred and fifty tarantulas, which were worth apparently six thousand dollars. Is this something that happens, like, people sm- like that many people want spiders, as pets, and, and we know this happens like daily not only with spiders, though, no scorpions as well? Centipedes beetles, but you're flies of the whole range of animals. That people if there's an interest in buying them people will find a way to get them for me like business as usual. Yeah. How big is this market is at, like multi million dollars a year? Yes worldwide. Yes. Definitely into the multi millions. I mean valuable specimens can easily go into thousands. So a seizure of a few that's twenty tarantulas you be conceived, spiders, that values already thousands of dollars. It is committed that the animal smuggling market is worth about twenty million dollars a year call that today's planet money, indicator twenty million dollars or twenty million dollars. We don't really know because animal smuggling is illegal Sergio says animal smuggling has grown astronomically in recent years for couple of reasons first, deforestation and development has made even really remote areas, much more accessible to people so species that used to be extremely hard to get to are now far easier to catch second Syria says the internet makes it much easier to sell the animals using everything from Facebook to specialty sites to chat rooms, and to find buyers in all. Places, and it all price ranges. Sergio says one of the most smuggled animals on earth is thought to be abalone. It's a cease nail that lives, mainly off the coast of South Africa is apparently very tasty kind of a gourmet thing. Also, the abalone shell is really beautiful and strong. The abalone is protected, but there's just a huge trade in it. That's why smuggling muggings right Scott so popular smugly market, another, one of the most smuggled animals is the penguin sort of looks like an Armadillo, and it's covered with these big scales that are thought to have magical properties and the pangolin is sort of popular in, like, what would you call it homey ethic met homeopathic medicine. Yeah. And as a result of smuggling the penguin is now endangered when it comes to insects Sergio specialty they are typically caught for a few different reasons sometimes as pets, but there are a lot of other reasons to some people want for splaying. So there been the dried maybe you've seen them. Sometimes I've seen shops. Oh, yeah. Yeah. With the insect displays. Sure. Yeah. Exactly. Some people will kill the spider and put them in a sort of blasting. And then they just have them as a keychain sometime in Asia, they're fried and use snack or as sort of a jurist gimmicky thing where the will take Instagram photo of them eating tarantula ninjas throw the body away. So the animals actually wasted after all those years growing after all those efforts than his just nobody eats, sir. Here says the most popular insects to smuggle tend to have three major characteristics that combination of factors usually being big being colorful, and being rare is like the treat some of the things people look for if it combines all three than yeah. Prices skyrocket. So a lot of butterflies some Beatles, and the emperor scorpion. Yes, it's this big black, scorpion from west Africa. It's the size of your hand. Sergio says people like them as pets because they looked so terrifying. But apparently, according to Sergio, they're pretty gentle little guys, as far as spiders, the red kneed tarantula, which is found in Mexico. Ago is really popular. It's a large tarantula with red and yellow stripes on its legs. And Sergio says the red knee. Tarantula is also now threatened is smuggling partly responsible for them being at risk. Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. Relocate seems it would be such a small dent. You know what I mean something like four station, seems like I could see how that would put us species at risk. But smugly it's gotta be pretty little like a couple hundred spiders. They were only if you hundred I can see how to be fairly sustainable. But the numbers are higher are much higher really talking about few thousand every year. But the things that the spiders were studied, the red news one, they take that case to grow. They grow in a year or even to take decades to become adults even being able to read. So if let's say we harvest out of good colony a healthy colony, and they have a hundred have one hundred specimens spread about this little spider town, you will, and you take off of their numbers. That city that spider colony won't bow back very quickly. And what's the problem? Mm-hmm. With with an insect becoming extinct. Yeah. Well, that's, that's a that is the million dollar question, sort of that is the same question people phrase about all sorts of things going extinct. So if we were to disappear as humans the earth would do pretty well without us actually probably better than it's doing now. Well, if you wear to remove spiders, however, the world, wouldn't last very well, not as we know it, it wouldn't last long at all the number of insects, they every single days, just Astra nominal if that predation exist, and you balance would have to be in number of insects just explode. And then, of course, another predator have to take over and than we'd be filled of that. So you see, so we're messing with this delicate balance, not being completely aware, not aware at all. What on quences will be Sergio says that the animal smuggling trade seems to be getting bigger all the time. So he and his team, try to track the people that they suspect of selling smuggled animals, for example by watching online vendors and they also educate buyers about, where they should get animals and how to avoid buying animals that have been smuggled, but he says, even a lot of pet stores have illegally, harvested animals, because so many people just don't know. The problem we often faces that Esam is in takes hold of most people working in a field. We see too many destruction. Species appearing to quickly and we feel helpless to do anything about it. But as I see it as long as we try really hard. I'm okay with failing really well. So you're trying really hard. Yeah. That's all I can do really if you wanna buy spider really any animal. Sergio says you should ask for the documents that show. It was captive bred. What do you think Cardiff should the or get red knee tarantula to we have a mascot as long as it doesn't come in a box of cookies?