K309 Gustaf

Extent of the impact of the Chinese wildlife trade on the world's wildlife


Olivier Boissier


Overharvesting is one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss. With rising human population and standards of living in many emergent and developing countries, demand for wildlife is on the increase. As it endangers such charismatic and evolutionarily distinct species as elephants, rhinoceroses or pangolins, the particular case of China has been in the spotlight in recent years. The number of species impacted by the Chinese wildlife trade seems to be very high, and numerous taxonomic groups to be affected. Species targeted originate from many places worldwide beyond the mere borders of China or its neighboring countries. I therefore aimed to quantify the exact extent of the impact of the Chinese wildlife trade on species endangerment worldwide. I focused on Amniotes (‘Reptiles’, Birds and Mammals) and used the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (version 2017-1) and market surveys to review which Amniote species threatened by biological resource use were affected by the Chinese wildlife trade. CITES databases and IUCN/SSC specialist groups provided further information. I found a total of 267 threatened or near-threatened Amniote species to be affected by the Chinese wildlife trade. Of these, 45% are turtles and tortoises. In this group, 50% of all evaluated species are (near-) threatened by the Chinese wildlife trade. Of all traded species, 62% are imported and 48% originate from China. Myanmar and Viet Nam are the main source countries, followed by Indonesia and the USA. Food is the primary use, followed by pet and traditional chinese medicine. Finally, a minimum of 74% of species are illegally traded; 84% of imported species are listed on CITES Appendix I or II. I aim to emphasize how better regulations and law enforcement at a single country scale could significantly reduce threats over a wide range of taxons worldwide.