Source: Long Delays In Banning Trade In Threatened Species, Science, February 2019

The large helmeted hornbill bird was commonly found in the wild in China and Indonesia in 2012. But three years later, it was close to extinction due to a sudden increase in demand for its ivory-like beak. Every day, thousands of species like the helmeted hornbill are placed at increased risk of extinction because of either legal or illegal trading. Yet, according to a new analysis by Eyal Frank, an assistant professor at Harris Public Policy, policymakers are responding too slowly to this slow-motion crisis. 

Frank analyzed 958 species on the scientific community’s endangered “Red List” and found that 28 percent of those species are not shielded by trade restrictions. Further, two-thirds of species endangered by wildlife trade wait close to or more than two decades to be protected. 

At the same time, Frank and his co-author discovered that 36 percent of species restricted from trade are not classified as needing protection by the scientific community. This could be because the policy community had information not available to the scientific community, or it could be due to staffing and other resource constraints within the scientific community. Overall, the analysis found more communication between the scientific and policy communities is needed.