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Soo Lee

Year-Prize: The 9th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Fight against illegal trade in wildlife

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Fight Against Illegal Trade In Wildlife – Illegal trade of wildlife in my country and its effect on future generation

 Winner's name: Soo Lee (South Korea)

Prize: Honorable Mention

Just three months ago, a 28-year-old man from South Korea was arrested for raising a crocodile in his own house. For four years, he had been uploading videos of abusing and feeding live mice to this dangerous, yet sacred creature. The crocodile was purchased from overseas for 100 million dollars, simply because he wanted to become a ?social media star.? However, because of the man?s careless choice, an ecosystem in another country may have been in great danger. I am from South Korea and always thought that illegal trade of wildlife was not a problem in the country. However, after hearing about the poor crocodile in March of 2016 and the establishment of South Korea?s first ?Illicit Trade of Wildlife Report Center,? I immediately became aware of the fact that my country was no different.

In South Korea, parts of animals from countries like Africa and other Asian countries are illegally traded. The most common examples are elephants? tusks for ivory and rhino horns. Recently, many Koreans were caught for illegally buying valuable animals such as the desert fox, African spurred tortoise, and the silk monkey through the Internet. A bear?s whole gall bladder is known to be more expensive than gold in Korea. Likewise, buying animals internationally has become common in the country. Although most animals come from different countries, several creatures are also hunted for in Korea. Over 90% of the animals poached for in South Korea are different kinds of birds and big animals, and the remaining 10% include sheep, musk deer, otters, wild boars, red deer, and snakes. Most of these animals are used for recuperating and improving one?s health. However, is health more important than killing a valuable life and is such action absolutely necessary? Just like how our country is buying animals from different parts of the world, we are also selling these animals for great prices to other countries.

             A life in exchange for millions or even trillions of dollars has become common worldwide. However, one life could cost an entire ecosystem. An ecosystem is set up like a food chain. Animals depend on other animals for survival, and everything is intertwined. If we, as humans, decide to illegally trade and buy a bear?s gall bladder or an elephant?s tusk for our own pleasure and display, we could be ruining other animals living in the same area. In other words, the biodiversity decreases and the ecosystem becomes completely disturbed. If such poaching continues without awareness, its effect may soon return back to humans and ultimately result in a disaster for humanity.

The continuing illegal trade of wildlife will mostly negatively affect countries in Africa, but South Korea will sooner or later become one of the many troubled places due to the uneven balance of the ecosystem. Although I am currently 17 years old and can see rhinos and tigers commonly at zoos, by the time my child becomes the same age, he or she may not even be able to see such animals. These animals will only become part of stories, like the ancient dinosaurs we only read about. However, this is only if the current trends of hunting animals like elephants, tortoises, and bears for meat, skin, body parts, or medicine continue. In other words, even though it is impossible to bring back what humanity has already done, it is possible to make situations better. As the number of illegal trade animals increases, our response rate must increase, as well. Even a small decision can be a great change. The problem is simple. Most people are not aware of the graveness of the illegal trade of wildlife, especially in Korea. Therefore, as a high school student, my first action was to educate younger students about endangered animals, and why they were endangered. As the elementary kids researched about these animals, they realized that most were endangered due to poaching for body parts. They went back home shocked and told other friends at school. Even though this mini lesson was small-scaled, it eventually spread to other people.

Absurd. Dangerous. Unnecessary. These are only a few words that describe what illegal trade of wildlife is. Both people who sell illicit animals or their body parts and those who buy them are perpetrators. There needs to be immediate and stricter punishments both ways. What the government and environmental organizations can and should do is mostly what we, as students, cannot really do. However, through my experience, I learned that younger people could contribute equally to help solve the problem. I realized that ing people around me, first, is more important than reaching farther to countries in Africa. The issue regarding the current situation must be dealt with in our own countries before anyone else?s. In my case, South Korea is my primary goal and others should follow. If this crisis is not resolved quickly, many ecosystems around the world will fall apart and create an impossible task. What humans have started, humans must end it.






  • says :
    Well-created! And the words 'What humans have started, humans must end it' is a catchy one!
    Posted 15-11-2016 23:14

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