Help London Zoo to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife

PUBLISHED: 17:14 13 May 2019

Chinese  Giant Salamander

Chinese Giant Salamander


How ZSL is making a difference to this damaging trade

James Wren at ZSLJames Wren at ZSL

As one of the biggest threats to endangered species around the world, shocking stories of the illegal wildlife trade appear frighteningly often in headlines.

It's been estimated that more than one million pangolins - the world's only scaly mammals - have been illegally traded in the last 15 years, while the poaching of forest elephants in central Africa led to a population decline of more than 60 percent in the last ten years.

But what is perhaps more alarming is that this despicable trade, said to be worth more than £17 billion a year, is globally pervasive with a significant number of incidences identified here in London too.

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At ZSL, we're working to put an end to the illegal wildlife trade. Full stop.We have long worked with customs officers to help identify and rehome animals confiscated by the UK's Border Force. 3,370 animals have been rescued and given homes since 2000, including critically endangered Egyptian tortoises, red rain frogs, green tree pythons and hundreds of corals. Last month, ZSL opened a new Chinese Giant Salamander exhibit, home to a juvenile individual nicknamed Professor Lew. One of four, Professor Lew arrived at the Zoo after Border Force officers seized a suspicious cereal box with the salamanders stuffed inside.

One of the world's most critically endangered amphibians, the aquatic giants were believed to be heading for an illegal private collection.

Having prevented an attempt to illegally import them, Border Force asked ZSL to act as guardians to these unique creatures. Sadly, this isn't an isolated incident, and while we were able to give these Chinese giant salamanders a second chance, this isn't the case for many species. The illegal wildlife trade is a global problem - adding to the biodiversity crisis- an insidious organised crime type that spans continents, involves vast networks of people, and threatens the existence of species large and small - from snow leopards to elephants, parrots, tarantulas and pangolins.

At the international illegal wildlife trade conference in London last October we committed to a series of pledges, from supporting local communities and law enforcement agencies, to working with technology companies to devise new solutions to identify and prevent illegal activity. We're working with other NGOs, big businesses and governments to protect ecosystems and the incredible species they support - both here on our doorstep and overseas.

This month, we're hosting our annual fundraising gala, Safari in the City, at the Regent's Park Zoo with the aim of raising vital funds to support our global efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade. Hosted by Chris Packham, and supported by incredibly generous people and businesses, this event goes a long way to helping us achieve our goal.

Working together, we can all make a difference; to find out how you can support us, please visit

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