Bio­di­ver­sity Apoc­a­lypse

An es­ti­mated an­nual $175-bil­lion busi­ness (and grow­ing!), the il­le­gal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth-largest crim­i­nal en­ter­prise. It stands to rad­i­cally al­ter the an­i­mal king­dom.

Canadian Geographic - - SHARING CAN GEO VIA INSTAGRAM - BY LES­LIE AN­THONY WITH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY PETER POWER

IN OC­TO­BER 1994, I was on as­sign­ment in Viet­nam’s north­ern Truong Son Moun­tains, hard against the Laos bor­der at an il­le­gal log­ging camp on the re­mote Khe Moi River. I was ac­com­pa­ny­ing a group of sci­en­tists con­duct­ing bio­di­ver­sity sur­veys in pre­vi­ously un­ex­plored ar­eas. The pri­mary for­est here har­boured a wealth of rare mam­mals, with rem­nant pop­u­la­tions of ele­phant, tiger, gib­bon, pan­golin, bark­ing deer and the just-dis­cov­ered saola — or Vu Quang ox. Af­ter sev­eral weeks in the jun­gle, the sci­en­tists had ex­tended this bio-bo­nanza to nu­mer­ous un­de­scribed species of snakes, frogs and in­sects, typ­i­cally found dur­ing night ex­cur­sions. On re­con­nais­sance one evening, I waded up­river, search­ing out en­trances to smaller streams to re­turn to later. Round­ing a bend, I sur­prised a clutch of men hud­dled around a fire on a sand­bar. Clad in rags, skin dark­ened by smoke and grit, they ra­di­ated con­spir­acy — and with rea­son. Be­hind them sat a brace of an­cient ri­fles and bam­boo-frame packs on which were lashed the dried bod­ies of sev­eral gib­bons and sun bears — both crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species af­forded the high­est level of pro­tec­tion un­der the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species, also known as CITES. As the men closed ranks to avoid eye con­tact, I waded past against the far bank, lu­di­crously pre­tend­ing I hadn’t no­ticed any­thing. The poach­ers were un­doubt­edly killing time un­til dark, when they’d pre­sum­ably make their way down­river to trade their booty along a pipe­line to China, the beckoning maw into which most of the world’s il­le­gally ob­tained wildlife flows. Though I’d never be­held such a scene, I knew pre­cisely what I was look­ing at: if South­east Asia’s re­main­ing forests were a gold mine of wildlife re­sources, then ex­otic out­posts such as the Khe Moi were its cut­ting face, a tableau of law­less iso­la­tion where CITES was mean­ing­less. What I didn’t know at the time was that the same could be said of Canada’s vast forests for the same rea­sons and, per­haps worse, that one could also buy the equiv­a­lent of a pow­dered gib­bon smoothie on the streets of Vancouver.

“THERE’S BEEN a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in wildlife traf­fick­ing and poach­ing over the last decade,” says Shel­don Jor­dan, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate for En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Canada and chair of In­ter­pol’s wildlife crime work­ing group. Given his dual roles, Jor­dan has spe­cial in­sight into the rea­sons be­hind the surge. “In­creased de­mand for wildlife prod­ucts is driven largely by more dis­pos­able in­come in Asia and other parts of the world that have food, medic­i­nal and spir­i­tual tra­di­tions around these items.” With “wildlife trade” de­fined as the sale or ex­change of any wild an­i­mal or plant (in­clud­ing trees), one might also fin­ger both a ris­ing pop­u­la­tion and sharp in­crease in the glob­al­iza­tion of com­merce over t he same pe­riod. Ac­cord­ing to TRAF­FIC — a net­work es­tab­lished in 1976 to mon­i­tor global wildlife trade — the value of le­gal wildlife prod­ucts in the early 1990s hov­ered around US$160 bil­lion an­nu­ally; by 2009 that had dou­bled to US$323 bil­lion, which in­cludes ev­ery­thing from seafood to tim­ber. A hint of the re­main­der lies in a Cites-com­piled list of the 2005 to 2009 le­gal trade: 317,000 live birds, more than six mil­lion rep­tile skins, 1.1 mil­lion beaver pelts, 73 tons of caviar, a reef’s worth of coral and 20,000 mam­mal hunt­ing tro­phies. Though black-mar­ket trade in these same items is, by its very na­ture, dif­fi­cult to as­sess, United Na­tions es­ti­mates of US$7 bil­lion to $23 bil­lion for fauna traf­fick­ing alone, and US$57 bil­lion to $175 bil­lion when flora and lum­ber are added, are stag­ger­ing — enough that on the scale of il­licit global en­ter­prises, wildlife now ranks fourth be­hind drugs, coun­ter­feit­ing and hu­man traf­fick­ing. Canada’s sub­stan­tial le­gal wildlife trade — forestry, com­mer­cial and re­cre­ational fish­eries, wild plant har­vest­ing, guided hunt­ing — aids com­mu­ni­ties when un­der­taken sus­tain­ably. But con­tin­ued un­sus­tain­able har­vest­ing and il­le­gal ex­port and im­port of wildlife re­sources both here and abroad threat­ens to un­der­mine any broader ef­forts at stew­ard­ship, af­fect­ing com­mu­ni­ties and economies world­wide. “Like it or not, we’re all de­pen­dent on the Earth for our sur­vival,” says Jor­dan. “The more that’s taken with­out be­ing reg­u­lated, the less ecosys­tems are able to con­tinue the ser­vices they pro­vide all life — in­clud­ing our­selves.” What Canada lacks in diver­sity of de­sir­able species is made up in sheer num­bers of or­gan­isms, dis­trib­uted over 10 mil­lion square kilo­me­tres, an area that could com­fort­ably fit 30 Viet­nams. With just more than a third of the pop­u­la­tion of that small coun­try fa­mously con­cen­trated in a few dis­crete ar­eas, there are plenty of iso­lated ar­eas where, for ex­am­ple, poach­ing bears to har­vest gall blad­ders and paws — both in de­mand in Chi­nese tra­di­tional medicine — might go un­no­ticed. The Rise of En­vi­ron­men­tal Crime, a white pa­per pub­lished in June 2016 by a Nor­we­gian think-tank and cosigned by In­ter­pol, cites the troika of pol­lu­tion, smug­gling and poach­ing to be ris­ing at five to seven per cent per year — dou­ble the pace of world eco­nomic growth. Canada is in lock-step with this in­crease, notes Jor­dan. “And when you cou­ple that with down­ward trends in govern­ment spend­ing, that means more work for us and fewer re­sources to do it.” While En­vi­ron­ment Canada’s wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate is re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing reg­u­la­tions of, among oth­ers, the Mi­gra­tory Birds Con­ven­tion Act, the Wild An­i­mal and Plant Pro­tec­tion and Reg­u­la­tion of In­ter­na­tional and In­ter­provin­cial Trade Act, the Species at Risk Act and the Canada Wildlife Act, it has only 75 field of­fi­cers na­tion­wide. Ex­clud­ing the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans, across all other govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions and lev­els in Canada, less than 1,500 peo­ple at­tend to wildlife laws — com­pared with 70,000 po­lice of­fi­cers. That makes mod­ern in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing method­olo­gies crucial to ef­fi­ciency, as does us­ing the re­sult­ing in­for­ma­tion to de­cide where the big­gest prob­lems are and how to lever­age the right part­ner­ships to deal with them — a sort of ju­ris­dic­tional triage.

In prac­tice, wildlife trade fits into a broader cat­e­gory of con­nected “en­vi­ron­men­tal crime” that in­cludes pol­lu­tion, il­le­gal fish­ing and log­ging (with up to one-third of the world’s pa­per ob­tained from il­le­gally sourced wood, eco­nomic im­pacts ac­crue for coun­tries such as Canada that strictly reg­u­late such sec­tors). Jor­dan works both to squelch in­ter­nal trade and to iden­tify and cut off ex­port and im­port routes of ev­ery­thing from but­ter­flies to birds to fish to frogs. Be­tween 2015 and 2016, the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate logged 4,900 in­spec­tions, 908 en­force­ment mea­sures, 167 new prose­cu­tions and 158 con­vic­tions, hand­ing out a record $1.1 mil­lion in penal­ties. Among the in­frac­tions: the il­le­gal har­vest­ing of mi­gra­tory birds in Que­bec, the il­le­gal ex­port of nar­whal tusks by a Mon­treal auc­tion house, a litany of bear parts turned up in a New Brunswick bor­der blitz, a Dall’s sheep poached in the Yukon (where it’s pro­tected) and smug­gled into B.C. (where it isn’t) so hun­ters could claim that prov­ince as its ori­gin, and the il­le­gal har­vest­ing of en­dan­gered Amer­i­can gin­seng, a slow-grow­ing, low-seed plant whose colonies re­quire 170 in­di­vid­u­als to re­main vi­able. “The rea­son for that par­tic­u­lar trade is mad­den­ing,” laments Jor­dan. “A good wild gin­seng root is 10 to 15 cen­time­tres long; the more it re­sem­bles a hu­man — with branches that ap­prox­i­mate arms and legs — the more it’s worth, up to thou­sands of dol­lars.” The wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate en­gages not only in en­force­ment but also in proac­tive train­ing and joint ef­forts aimed at stem­ming il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity while pro­tect­ing le­gal trade. For ex­am­ple, non-threat­ened Cana­dian pop­u­la­tions of glob­ally threat­ened wildlife pro­vide eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity to com­mu­ni­ties when man­aged sus­tain­ably. Em­blem­atic is our most iconic large mam­mal, the po­lar bear. While Canada’s sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts to pro­tect its pop­u­la­tions en­sure their con­tin­ued health, po­lar bears con­tinue to con­fer cul­tural, sus­te­nance and eco­nomic ben­e­fits to many iso­lated Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. But when auc­tion prices for hides spiked from $5,000 to $25,000 apiece sev­eral years ago, il­le­gal har­vest rose in tan­dem. In re­sponse, the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate joined pro­vin­cial, ter­ri­to­rial and fed­eral agen­cies to col­lab­o­rate with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties on an ap­proach to iden­tify and track le­gal po­lar bear hides from har­vest through ex­port, in­clud­ing DNA anal­y­sis and tag­ging with eas­ily scanned mi­crochips. These pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on when and where a hide was ob­tained, help­ing thwart il­le­gal trade while fa­cil­i­tat­ing a more ef­fi­cient track­ing process for le­gal hides. But while this sys­tem can help with non-com­pli­ant ex­ports, the tide of il­le­gal im­ports, ac­cord­ing to Jor­dan, con­tin­ues un­abated.

IN THE EARLY 1980S,

a cu­ra­tor at Ot­tawa’s Mu­seum of Na­ture in­vited me to tour a ware­house across the river in Gatineau, Que., where il­le­gal wildlife items seized at Cana­dian air­ports, sea­ports and bor­der cross­ings were stored. I re­call a dimly lit mor­tu­ary of metal shelves stacked floor to ceil­ing with stuffed, glassy-eyed crocodil­ians and birds, sea tur­tle cara­paces, conch shells, rolled snake­skins, nu­mer­ous ivories, and the hides of lions and tigers and bears. Though this par­tic­u­lar cache has long since been de­stroyed, the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate cur­rently main­tains small ex­hibit rooms near Toronto and Ot­tawa stocked with sim­i­lar items, plus a phar­ma­copoeia made from pro­hib­ited plant and an­i­mal species. While the sheer scope of ma­te­rial re­mains dis­turb­ing, a sin­gle rhino horn sit­ting on a shelf also can’t help but con­jure a grue­some im­age of its de­ceased owner, bleed­ing in the dirt, horn severed from its head. And that raises a trou­bling ques­tion: How long un­til these great beasts are gone from our midst? Not long, con­sid­er­ing what amounts to an 8,000 per cent rise in rhino poach­ing: in 2007, 13 of the an­i­mals were killed, while the past four years have each seen more than 1,000 re­moved from the wild, driven by black-mar­ket prices of up to $350,000 per horn. “Ten years ago, some­one started a ru­mour that pow­dered rhino horn cures cancer — ex­cept it’s only ker­atin like hair and nails,” notes Jor­dan. “You have as much chance of cur­ing cancer or erec­tile dys­func­tion with rhino horn as you do chew­ing your fin­ger­nails.” Pan­golins, scaly anteaters of Asia and Africa, are like­wise slaugh­tered at the rate of one mil­lion or more an­nu­ally for the whim­si­cal prop­er­ties of their scales. Ele­phant pop­u­la­tions are de­creas­ing an­nu­ally by about 8.5 per cent (against a re­pro­duc­tive rate that op­ti­mally al­lows

A mounted tur­tle head in the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate’s ev­i­dence room.

for only a four per cent in­crease). In the Horn of Africa, ivory is smug­gled from the law­less Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo through un­sta­ble South Su­dan into So­ma­lia, whose ports are con­trolled by ji­hadist or­ga­ni­za­tion Al-shabaab, which hap­pily taxes its pas­sage. “With up­wardly mo­bile col­lec­tors in emerg­ing economies pay­ing top dol­lar for dec­o­ra­tive ivory carv­ings, we could be down to very few wild ele­phants within a gen­er­a­tion,” says Jor­dan. “Many of those coun­tries are at the stage we were at 50 years ago in terms of cul­tural taboos, so it’ll take time.” Mean­while, Asian en­claves in large North Amer­i­can cities will con­tinue to keep to tra­di­tional be­liefs de­spite the cul­tural — and le­gal — pro­hi­bi­tions of the West. “There’s a large trade in any- thing charis­matic or use­ful in tra­di­tional medicines that mainly has Asian Cana­di­ans as clients,” says Jor­dan, echo­ing news re­ports about what one might find dur­ing a tour of Chi­nese mar­kets and apothe­caries in Toronto and Vancouver, where all man­ner of live (tur­tles, fish), dried (geckos, sea cu­cum­bers, shark fins) and pow­dered (en­dan­gered large mam­mal bits) con­tra­band is trans­acted. China it­self, how­ever, may be com­ing around, hav­ing pledged, at least, to ban ivory by the end of the year. Jor­dan wishes them luck, know­ing the trade will sim­ply go un­der­ground for a few years. Be­fore en­coun­ter­ing the Khe Môi poach­ers, I’d al­ready seen how China’s in­sa­tiable ap­petite for al­i­men­ta­tion, wish­ful aphro­disi­acs and tra­di­tional medicines ac­counted for many of Viet­nam’s en­dan­gered species — and sev­eral that soon would be. When a sin­gle king co­bra could net US$200 — equiv­a­lent to Viet­nam’s av­er­age an­nual wage at the time — pro­vid­ing for a hun­gry fam­ily trumped all. The traf­fic I ob­served in con­sum­able snakes and frogs alone was stag­ger­ing — thou­sands crammed into burlap sacks cross­ing into China ev­ery day. Add in lizards, tur­tles, fish, birds, mam­mals and in­ver­te­brates, with the same oc­cur­ring in a hun­dred other coun­tries, and you had a ma­jor global cri­sis. This was the real China syn­drome — not the nu­clear melt­down of the epony­mous 1979 Hol­ly­wood flick, but a bio­di­ver­sity apoc­a­lypse now.

REP­TILES ARE SUR­PRIS­INGLY

com­mon con­tra­band. In 2009, an un­der­cover op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing the On­tario Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, En­vi­ron­ment Canada’s wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate and U.S. agen­cies doc­u­mented the il­le­gal trade of more than 2,400 pro­tected tur­tles and ven­omous snakes, charg­ing two dozen peo­ple. Three On­tario men rounded up in the sting faced 34 charges for sell­ing two pro­tected species — east­ern mas­sas­auga rat­tlesnakes and spot­ted tur­tles — across the bor­der. Amer­i­can in­ves­ti­ga­tors pos­ing as ven­dors at com­mer­cial rep­tile shows in New York and Penn­syl­va­nia be­friended poach­ers and trawled In­ter­net sites be­fore nab­bing one of the men with 33 rat­tlesnakes hid­den in his van. The Penn­syl­va­nia show was so pop­u­lar with Cana­dian rep­tile en­thu­si­asts that wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate of­fi­cers set up at the Queen­ston-lewis­ton bor­der cross­ing be­tween New York and On­tario, charg­ing sev­eral un­der the cus­toms act for smug­gling ven­omous snakes and frogs into Canada. Their $1,000 fines, how­ever, were mere slaps on the wrist that didn’t cover the time spent catch­ing, charg­ing and pro­cess­ing them. “Gen­er­ally speak­ing, our laws go back many decades and need a tune-up,” says Jor­dan. “It’s a chal­lenge to the

Pol­lu­tion, smug­gling and poach­ing are ris­ing at five to seven per cent per year — dou­ble the pace of world eco­nomic growth — and Canada is in lock-step with this in­crease.

en­force­ment com­mu­nity when de­ter­rents are mild. By and large, judges and prose­cu­tors don’t use the penal­ties avail­able.” Though you can re­ceive up to five years in jail for wildlife smug­gling in Canada, Jor­dan has never seen more than a four-month sen­tence, at­trib­ut­able, he be­lieves, to a per­cep­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal crime as vic­tim­less among a ju­di­ciary hard­ened by drug crimes with clear hu­man cost. For in­stance, if a smug­gler brings in a kilo of fen­tanyl, it’s as­sumed a cer­tain num­ber of peo­ple will die; not so with a kilo of en­dan­gered crit­ters. But where Cana­dian law leaves things up to the dis­cre­tion of a court sys­tem, U.S. le­gal pro­scrip­tions are stronger, the penal­ties much harsher: a Water­loo, Ont., man

Les­lie An­thony (@do­cleslie) is a bi­ol­o­gist and au­thor. His lat­est non-fic­tion book, The Aliens Among Us: How In­va­sive Species Are Trans­form­ing the Planet — and Our­selves, hits book­stores in late Oc­to­ber. Peter Power (@pjpeter­power) has been shoot­ing award-win­ning im­ages for nearly 30 years.

caught head­ing south with dozens of tur­tles in his pants is now serv­ing 57 months in an Amer­i­can jail. Busts can be dra­matic — wor­thy of re­al­ity TV treat­ment. In a case near Corn­wall, Ont., Cana­dian and U.S. au­thor­i­ties mon­i­tored a boat as it crossed ‘With up­wardly mo­bile col­lec­tors in emerg­ing economies pay­ing top dol­lar for dec­o­ra­tive ivory carv­ings, we could be down to very few wild ele­phants within a gen­er­a­tion.’ the St. Lawrence River from New York to On­tario to de­liver boxes to a wait­ing van. With of­fi­cers de­scend­ing on the smug­glers, a woman took off with the boat, while the man driv­ing the van was ar­rested. The boxes con­tained Chi­nese striped tur­tles, African side­neck tur­tles, South Amer­i­can red-footed tor­toises and nu­mer­ous lizards bound for pet stores and pri­vate col­lec­tions. On­tario av­er­ages four or five such files a year. “Of course, we don’t know how much we’re not de­tect­ing,” Lonny Coote, the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate’s di­rec­tor for wildlife en­force­ment in On­tario, told the Cana­dian Press in 2016. Ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained un­der war­rant, Den­nis Day, the man ar­rested, pro­cessed more than 18,000 il­le­gal rep­tiles with a street value of $700,000. Con­victed of smug­gling in 2013, his sen­tence was a $50,000 fine and six months in jail to be served on week­ends. The boat driver was charged and con­victed by U.S. of­fi­cials. A third con­spir­a­tor, who owned a Mon­treal rep­tile store, re­ceived a $45,000 fine and was suc­cess­fully sued by the store’s land­lord af­ter 250 rep­tile car­casses were dis­cov­ered inside the build­ing’s walls. Smug­gling comes with such sur­prises. In an­other case, a Rich­mond, B.C., in­di­vid­ual who’d been shunt­ing iconic wildlife in and out of Canada was lured to New York for a buy and ar­rested there. “Then we called the of­fi­cers wait­ing out­side his an­tique shop in Rich­mond. They went inside to re­trieve his com­puter on which all the ev­i­dence would re­side — you know, who were the sup­pli­ers, who were the clients — but they also found ivory and

When I was grow­ing up in Pond In­let (above), we’d see about 15 cruise ships a year visit the com­mu­nity. When I joined One Ocean Ex­pe­di­tions for the jour­ney through the Arc­tic, I thought, “Ooh, I know what it’s like to wel­come tourists, but now I get to see what it’s like to be one of them.” I was hon­oured and hum­bled to rep­re­sent Nun­vaut on-board, and meet­ing with pas­sen­gers and peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties in the North on a daily ba­sis was a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. They were 12-hour days, but they didn’t seem that long. I did pre­sen­ta­tions about life in the Arc­tic and talked about cul­tural iden­tity. To have had the chance to share my cul­ture was im­por­tant — I saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to bridge the gap be­tween the North and the south. For ex­am­ple, I shared sto­ries about the ex­treme tem­per­a­tures and light changes we have to deal with. In May, the sun is out un­til 10 p.m. Then, from about the end of Oc­to­ber on­ward, we’re liv­ing in dark­ness. What does that mean for the com­mu­nity and schools? Some­times, my own com­mu­nity doesn’t al­ways see the po­ten­tial of tourism. But then when they see some­one like me come off the ship, it can give them hope. The young peo­ple see that I’m from here and they re­al­ize that they have the po­ten­tial to do this, too. Learn more about One Ocean Ex­pe­di­tions’ in­cred­i­ble range of voy­ages and book your own life­time ex­pe­ri­ence at

coral, as well as ec­stasy and mar­i­juana,” says Jor­dan. “He was clearly in­volved in or­ga­nized crime.” Ac­cord­ing to Jor­dan, wildlife trade is at­tract­ing or­ga­nized crime be­cause of its out­ra­geous profit mar­gins — higher, in many cases, than for il­licit drugs (see side­bar “Pro­ceeds of crime,” left). “That el­e­ment has def­i­nitely in­creased over the 15 years I’ve been work­ing. Ev­ery cou­ple of years, a bear gall-blad­der ring is taken apart … One in Que­bec in­volved 80 peo­ple.”

WHEN IT COMES TO IL­LE­GAL wildlife trade, stem­ming the tide of sup­ply re­quires low­er­ing the high-wa­ter mark of de­mand, a dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion when you’re up against hu­man na­ture, in­grained cul­tural be­liefs and big money. Though this equa­tion has al­ways ex­isted, it’s com­pounded by the nou­veau riche of emerg­ing economies who can now af­ford prod­ucts pre­vi­ously seen as lux­u­ries. As long as some­one is will­ing to pay good money, des­per­ate peo­ple will con­tinue to kill gorillas sim­ply to cut off their hands. And de­mand for sup­posed aphro­disi­acs is as likely to go away as tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine that re­lies on an­i­mal parts, de­spite the largely su­per­sti­tious ba­sis of both. In late 2006, Zhang Gongyao, a med­i­cal his­tory pro­fes­sor at Cen­tral South Univer­sity in Hu­nan, ig­nited a furor in China when he wrote: “Chi­nese tra­di­tional medicine has nei­ther an em­pir­i­cal nor a ra­tio­nal foun­da­tion. It is a threat to bio­di­ver­sity. And it of­ten uses poi­sons and waste as reme­dies. So we have enough rea­sons to bid farewell to it.” On that Viet­nam so­journ two decades ago, il­le­gal wildlife trade was ap­par­ent ev­ery­where: lo­cal mar­kets sold pu­ta­tively pro­tected an­i­mals, restau­rants spe­cial­ized in them, the Hanoi ho­tel where I stayed had a snake dealer in the lobby, gift shops brimmed with an­i­mal con­tra­band and il­le­gal — yet state-sanc­tioned — log­ging was le­gion. Worst was the mid-coastal port of Vinh, where our group was guided on an in­com­pre­hen­si­bly heart-wrench­ing tour to view live an­i­mals — sun bears, clouded leop­ards, pan­golins, mon­i­tor lizards, pythons and birds kept un­der ap­palling con­di­tions in hopes they could some­how be sold be­fore they died. My bi­ol­o­gist com­pan­ions had tears in their eyes as we left town. Canada’s task seems clearer i n Jor­dan’s top three is­sues: the ex­port tro­phy trade in vul­ner­a­ble species, the im­port of high-value pro­hib­ited ma­te­rial such as ivory and rhino horn, and the emerg­ing threat of in­va­sive species, which can wreak havoc on ecosys­tems and also carry par­a­sites and pathogens that can harm Cana­dian wildlife. The good news? Tech­nol­ogy is aid­ing en­force­ment — drones and re­mote-trig­gered cam­eras have made it eas­ier to iden­tify and lo­cate wildlife poach­ers both abroad and in Canada. The bad news is that en­vi­ron­men­tal crim­i­nals are us­ing the same tech­nol­ogy — as well as the In­ter­net, where you can pur­chase any­thing and, per­haps in the near fu­ture, have it dropped at your house via drone. Says Jor­dan: “These are the chal­lenges we’re up against as a world com­mu­nity.” Read about some of the stand­out items the wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate has seized at can­geo.ca/so17/an­i­mal­trade.

Bruce scans in­ven­tory in the direc­torate’s ev­i­dence room ( op­po­site), which in­cludes a taxi­der­mied sea tur­tle ( top left), an ele­phant foot stool ( top right) and carv­ings made from ele­phant ivory ( above).

The wildlife en­force­ment direc­torate’s ev­i­dence col­lec­tion also in­cludes items man­u­fac­tured from wildlife, such as bear gall wine ( left) and snake­skin boots ( above).

— Les­lie Qam­maniq Com­mu­nity jus­tice spe­cial­ist with the govern­ment of Nunavut and Parks Canada in­tern aboard the One Ocean Voy­ager, 2015

Fur coats, mounted na­tive birds and mam­mals are among the hun­dreds of items in the ev­i­dence col­lec­tion.

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