The idea of this campaign originated in 2017 and I am very glad that I have been lucky to be a member of this team from the very beginning. Especially in such a strong composition as was, unfortunately the deceased, Petr Čolas, director of the Ostrava Zoo, Pavla Říhová and Dominika Formanová from the International Biodiversity Conservation and CITES Department and my two colleagues and experts in nature conservation František Příbrský and Kateřina Holubová, both working at the Ostrava Zoo.
To explain what the Stolen Wildlife (SW) actually is, let me “steal” our introductory caption from the website www.stolenwildlife.org. Illegal trade in animals and their body parts is one of the main causes of wild animals becoming endangered. A problem and responsibility of Asia, Africa or America? Yes, of course, but also European states are to blame, and so are even many citizens of the Czech Republic. You don’t believe it? You can now learn more thanks to the new, unique campaign named Stolen Wildlife. Stolen Wildlife is the first complex campaign in the Czech Republic disclosing often overlooked facts about illegal wildlife trade. And that was exactly the idea at the beginning of the whole establishment of SW, to show real cases and to reveal this issue to the general public. The illegal trade in wild animals often affects us much more than it seems. Only when traveling to exotic countries, where we take a photo with a monkey, or in a local famous restaurant where we feast on shark fin soup and then buy a turtle shell bracelets. And that’s just a tip of the iceberg. A major problem is the trade in threatened species of wild animals or their parts for traditional medicine. Even the word “traditional” lags a lot in this case. These are often newly formed extracts that did not occur at all in the original medicine and have been shown to have no healing effects. But it wouldn’t be a big problem if one family had, for example, owned one rhino horn for generations, which it would sometimes grind into drinks. But the novel rumour that the rhino horn cures cancer has caused rhino horns to be traded on a large scale, and there is a regular “rhino war” in African countries, killing up to 3 rhinos a day. But there are many more species on the verge of extinction due to “business”. Due to the ivory trade, one elephant dies every 15 minutes, there are about 3,800 tigers left in the wild, but about 20,000 of them are kept in captivity, and only a small part of them in zoos. Doubtful conduct and trade in tiger products have been identified in most of the remaining institutions where tigers are kept. This was shown also in the Czech Republic in the case of 2018, when investigators found a killing and sale of tigers for the Vietnamese community living in the Czech Republic after a raid in the Doksy Zoo. But the trade also applies to exotic species closer to us, such as parrots, reptiles or butterflies. It’s no exception to reveal parrots smuggled stuck in PET bottles or dead critically endangered butterflies transported to collections.
On the Stolen Wildlife website or FB, you can therefore get informed in detail about the issue of illegal trade in wild animals and specific cases from the field. Part of the whole campaign also consists of photo panels, where each photo panel deals with the illegal trade in a certain threatened species or its body parts. We also created a series of “bloody” photos, titled “Do you buy? You have blood on your hands!”, which is to point out that we can also become a part of this trade and thus support extinction of the species in nature, even though we do not directly hold a “gun” in our hands.
We also offer these photo panels in electronic form to organizations to help us spread these informations, and I am very glad that almost two dozen organizations have joined us. If you are interested in an exhibition of photo panels, don't hesitate to contact me.