The Truth Behind Those ‘Cute’ Wildlife Viral Videos

Recently there has been an influx of ‘cute’ videos on social media – the bear, lion and tiger cub living together, or the tickling slow Ioris and the latest being the ring-tailed Lemur asking for a back scratch. However, these create a market for an illegal wildlife/pet trade.

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What is Illegal Wildlife Trade? Selling of wildlife or animals parts or even plant resources is wildlife trade. Not all wildlife trade is illegal. When there is an overexploitation of certain species of wildlife or plants laws are put into effect in a bid to sustain and maintain the balance in nature. Poaching of tusks from elephants, horns from rhinos and skin and bones of a tiger are examples of illegal wildlife trade.

What is Illegal Pet Trade? Selling of wildlife for use as pets is illegal pet trade since it threatens countless species that sends them towards extinction. Parakeets, turtles, Lemurs are a few animals that are captured from their habitat gradually emptying forests, rivers and skies for a global consumer market.

How does this start? Demand drives the illegal wildlife trade. Rhino horns have become a much more prized commodity since inaccurate information got around about rhino horn curing cancer. Tiger skin and bones have always been traded illegally because of its apparent health benefits. With the illegal pet trade, it mostly stems from cute viral videos that misses crucial context. Slow Iorises were a species not known to most people, however a video of an slow Ioris lifting her hands up while being tickled turned into the most demanded pet.

What other reasons are there?

  1. There are many nations that have a high demand for wildlife or wildlife goods and expect that lifestyle to be supplied.
  2. On the flip side of the coin, there are people suffering in extreme poverty who see bartering of wildlife as a viable source of income.
  3. Governing bodies do exact laws and have harsh penalties, however, there are gaps in conserving wildlife.
  4. Certain countries have competitions with these illegal pets taking centre stage.

How do the viral videos tie in with the bigger picture? Watching the bear, tiger and lion cubs tumbling around with each other similar to a littler or puppies or cats disillusions you to the actual danger of the wildness of these magnificent beasts. Watching a slow Ioris with its arms raised while being tickled makes you believe these are animals make adorable pets. The lemur being back scratched again disillusions you into believing that this wild animal can be domesticated and live as pets.

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Why is this dangerous? Half information, out of context information is always very dangerous. Rhino horns do not cure cancer and tiger parts do not help make you healthy. However, that has not stopped the illegal wildlife trade. In the same vein, a slow Ioris doesn’t actually like being tickled. Arms raised is a sign of distress, because a venom is released under its armpit that it licks and then bites the source of threat. Lemurs are social creatures and need to be surrounded with other lemurs, they are also vicious and do not like being domesticated.

What has been the fallout from the Illegal Wildlife Trade? Tigers, Elephants and Rhinos are among the most endangered animals in the wild. Conservationists are trying their best to protect these wild beasts however, deforestation, reduction in habitats and poaching are causes for concern. Governing bodies and conservationists can only do so much, however, there are too many ‘illegal trade hot-spots’ that eradicating this trade is difficult.

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What has been the fallout from the Illegal Pet Trade? The slow Ioris is a prime example of this. No one knew what a slow Ioris was until there was a YouTube video. The pet trade flourished because of this, because they bite their threats with a venom from under their arms – their teeth were clipped out without proper anaesthesia causing a lot to die from infections or blood loss. Many died during transport conditions which are very overcrowded, stressful situations. If a slow Ioris survives the transport to its new owner, they do not survive too well, since even well-meaning owners do not understand the animals needs, habitat requirements and food requirements. Most of these social animals die in loneliness. This has caused the slow Ioris to become an endangered animal. The lemur is already an endangered animal as well, and many owners are unable to maintain them as pets and these are locked, abandoned or killed, since even in a domesticated environment they are aggressive.

What can you do? Learning more is always a plus. Find out more about the animals that are there in the videos – are they endangered, do they really make good pets? It’s always beneficial to learn more, photos and videos tend to skew our perceptions, as many people believe dolphins and chimpanzees are perfect animals in captivity. However, till date every dolphin in captivity has died as they are social creatures and we do not know much about their way of life that we cannot recreate it in captivity. Chimpanzees, though ape-like and show similar characteristics to humans are wild animals and cannot be domesticated either as they tend to show aggressive tendencies as well. If you end up sharing videos make sure you spread the correct context about the creature involved. Speak out about wildlife trade. Stand with the Indian Government and conservationists in protecting the countries endangered wildlife {India is committed towards fighting illegal trade of elephants, tigers and rhinos}.

Remember – Increasing an animal’s appeal as a pet, encourages illegal trade and threatens the species.

Sources: National Geographic, Huffington Post, WWF

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Recycling and It’s Importance in Our Current World

Reduce, recycle and reuse. We’ve all heard the call. We know it needs to be done because it does affect everything around us, including us. However, we sometimes miss the reason for the importance of recycling.

What is Recycling? It is essentially converting waste into reusable material. Recycling requires far less energy, fewer natural resources and keeps waste from piling up in our garbage landfills.

What causes waste?

  1. Rising economic conditions makes it easier to buy products that ultimately create waste.
  2. Rising populations means more people create more waste on this planet.
  3. New lifestyle changes such as eating fast food, creates non-biodegradable waste.
  4. New products and technological products being developed contains many products that are non-biodegradable.

Why should we recycle? Recycling is important to the environment as well us;

  1. Recycling helps reduce pollution caused by the waste.
  2. Recycling reduces the need for natural resources, meaning our forests can be preserved a lot longer for the future generations.
  3. Using recycled materials means habitat for wildlife is not damaged.
  4. Recycling requires less energy, thus saving more natural resources for the future.
  5. Waste gets collected in garbage landfills, which currently are overflowing. Recycling helps, since there is less space for the waste in these landfills.
  6. Making products from raw materials costs much more than if they were made from recycled products, making recycling a financially viable option.

Still, why is Recycling important? Follow this example along for why, we need to recycle.
We all know that our oceans cover about 72% of the Earth’s surface. In the recent years, our oceans have become warmer, more acidic, oxygen deprived and most important – Polluted! Our waste in some form or the other eventually ends up in the waterways from our garbage landfills right into the Pacific Ocean garbage patch.

Non-biodegradable plastic materials end up in the stomachs of many sea life creatures {some fish mistakenly assume it is plankton}. Scientists discovered many plastic fragments in the stomachs of lanternfish. Lanternfish are the major food source of tuna and mahi-mahi, which in turn end up on our plates!

Over the past 26 years, glass, plastic bottles, diapers, food packaging, light bulbs, appliances, and many more items containing plastic were found during annual ocean cleanups. 80% of the products thrown away can be recycled, but only 28% are being recycled. In India, many cities do not encourage recycling, other than paper items.

What can you do? Plastic takes 600 years to degrade, meaning it will be around for a long, long time. To help the ecosystem, it’s best to start with plastic. Cut down the use of plastic.

  1. Carry your own bag, cut down on plastic bags and plastic papers.
  2. Recycling furniture or any wooden goods. Reduce and recycle wood products whenever possible.
  3. Going paperless, recycling paper are also good ways to conserve forests.
  4. CDs, DVds, Batteries, appliances, clothing can all be recycled. Find the recycling services you can use in your city to recycle these products.
  5. Encourage recycling among your friends, family and neighbourhood.

Remember – We cannot stop the pile-up of waste, however, we can HELP recycle! Spread the word.

Sources: oceanconservancy.org, greenfacts.org, conserveenergyfuture.com,

Disappearing Woodlands and Their Importance

With the recent Uttarakhand Forest fires – forests and their importance has been splashed everywhere from newspapers to magazines and even your news channels. It is a very big cause for concern to even those not in the vicinity of the forest fires.

What is Deforestation? The permanent destruction of forests converting them to lands for other uses other than forest cover is Deforestation. Forests cover over 31% of the Earth’s surface and about 1,19,000 to 1,50,200 square kilometres of forests are destroyed annually. In about 50 years, 17% of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost.

What causes Deforestation? There are many causes for deforestation, here are the main reasons:

  1. The logging industry has strong sanctions against felling of trees thus causing them to turn to illegal means – such as causing forest fires.
  2. Growing populations and the need for space for us humans, has caused many forests to be destroyed for road and infrastructure building.
  3. Agricultural lands, especially in India, has caused farmers to raise forests to the grounds in an effort to get more agricultural space. Forest fires also cause the land to become a little more fertile and create a good crop.
  4. Cattle ranching is another industry that requires a lot of space and forests are cleared for this.

Why are Forest spaces important?

  1. About 50% of the Earth’s Plants and animals call rainforests home even though rainforests cover about 2% of the Earth’s total surface area. Many plants, insects and animals go extinct with deforestation.
  2. Destroying forest cover shrinks the habitat for wild animals, causing them to roam closer towards civilization. These animals end up destroying crops and livestock because food in the forests becomes scarce for them.
  3. In India, tribals rely of forests for their food, clothing, fresh water, medicine and shelter. About 1.6 Billion people in the world, rely on forests.
  4. Global carbon emissions are absorbed into the forests. Less forests mean, more global carbon emissions floating in the atmosphere. Indirectly responsible for global warming.
  5. Removing forest cover, has also caused more floods to occur. Deciduous forests, like in Uttarakhand, helped ease the water into the rivers at a measured pace allowing for towns and villages on the banks of the river to utilise the water. However, with no forests to slow the waters, the waters spread over the banks and cause floods damaging properties and lives.

What can you do? United States, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, China, Russia and Dominican Republic of Congo are the 7 countries that cause about 60% of the Earth’s Deforestation. This is a concern that countries and governments have to actively participate in to pass stricter laws thus ensuring forests and the wildlife within are protected. Awareness has been at a minimum, however, because of the Uttarakhand forest fire, more information has come out. Forests fires are either caused intentionally or by the dry heat conditions.

  1. Increasing knowledge over the subject, raising awareness among you will help to a certain degree, ensuring that it is an important matter to discuss.
  2. Recycling furniture or any wooden goods. Reduce and recycle wood products whenever possible.
  3. Going paperless, recycling paper are also good ways to conserve forests

Remember – We cannot stop deforestation, however, we can HELP.

Sources: National Geographic, WWF, CustomMade