You all know the determination of Wildlife Angel to denounce the actions of poachers on elephants and rhinos. Yet there are sometimes events that seem anecdotal or insignificant and can have tragic consequences.
“The flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas.”
This metaphor, also called butterfly effect, is often used by scientists to illustrate the chaos theory. In plain language, experts suggest this effect when they demonstrate that a small change in the initial conditions of an experiment can have unexpected and very different consequences on a complex phenomenon. The advantage of this concept is to accept that something relatively trivial, a priori, can cause devastating effects, no one would have expected.
To follow the logic, I could suggest another metaphor:
“A TV show in China results in ultra protected species trafficking in Africa! ”
In this case, the butterfly effect is not only a simple mathematical expression.
A very concrete example …
Few months ago, Chinese producers decide to launch a new concept of reality television program featuring well-known actors in contact with wild animals in a zoo: it is the program “Wonderfull Friends”. Although the story seems trivial at first, one more TV show in the Chinese television landscape, the public reaction is unexpected and millions of viewers largely approve this new concept. Wonderfull Friends becomes a real phenomenon. The unintentional message that producers have passed is perceived by the public as a proof that a young wild animal is so cute that it can make an endearing pet. A strong craze is created to adopt young monkeys, lion, panther, etc.
In the various episodes of the show, the viewers can see the naturalist apprentices establish unnatural contacts with various representatives of wildlife, which results in an obvious stress for the animals. For primates, education meets certain criteria that have nothing to do with our concept of education.
Indeed, they have an intense adolescence period during which they must develop their social behavior, which will determine their adult lifestyle. By extending the period of separation with their peers, and maintaining artificially prolonged contact with humans, they don’t grow and develop like they should. Their natural evolution process is altered. And behavioral mistakes can be destructive in these animals, making them either antisocial or dangerous. Once into adulthood, manage unbalanced chimpanzee can be difficult for a zoo, and even more for a human family that would have decided to adopt one!!!
Moreover, their young age is extremely sensitive against illnesses and their close relationships with the actors can cause them serious pathologies and vice versa!
The emergence of a new market
As if elephant ivory and rhino horn were not enough, we have now to face the emergence of a market in China to import young animals from Africa mainly, and sell them at an expensive price to parents who have (mis)understood that the young wild animals could become extraordinary companions, as suggested by the title of the program.
Even the Chinese safari parks and zoos have immediately started looking for such animals, braving if need international prohibitions protecting endangered species.
The Yancheng Safari Park in Changzhou recently introduced a young chimpanzee used during children’s shows. Disguised (ridiculed) in this way (the picture at the beginning of this article is taken from one of the performances) it attracts all desires of children who dream to make it become their new pet. But those interested in the fascinating world of primates take a few seconds to carefully observe the animal in question: is this a young chimpanzee whose zoo acquired legally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, or is it a real bonobo, an absolutely protected species whose trade is strictly forbidden?
Thus, illegal trafficking that we are fighting is not only summarized by the poaching of thousands of elephants and rhinos. They are also of the more subtle and perverse forms. Regarding primates: chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas from Africa, or orangutans in Indonesia, the interest is their capture and trade to the applicant countries, China, to meet the new trend in adoption of these “very friendly and so cute creatures.” Now, to find young primates in the forest, it is not possible to rely too much on the good will of their parents, which will react with a protective instinct and therefore will be killed to kidnap their young.
Forecasted disaster …
Thank you for attending our program “Wonderfull friends”!