Animals are exported from countries for four main reasons. The first is to take them to zoos. The next is to sell them as pets. Animals can also be sent to restaurants or used to create clothes. The number of animals exported for these purposes has risen in the millions over the past decades. Most are small and clearly intended for the pet market. A look at pet ownership, at least in America, shows just how big the exotic pet market is.
Outforia’s new study, “Wildlife Trades,” shows that in most years of the past decade, animal exports topped 5 million, according to the Nature Guide’s source, the CITES trade from 1975 to 2021. In one year, the figure was over 10 million. That record breaking year was 2018. One of the conclusions of the study was that “in total, around 200 million live animal trades have taken place since 1975 and the trade is largely dominated by a few influential countries.”
The counties that have been the largest pet exporters since 1975 are El Salvador (19.2 million), China (16.0 million), the United States (12.8 million), Colombia (11 , 7 million), South Africa (10.6 million), Saudi Arabia (9.9 million), France (8.7 million), Peru (7.8 million), Indonesia ( 7.7 million) and Ghana (6.1 million). The first country’s exports, according to the research, were mainly iguanas and turtles.
Further analysis shows how the most exported animals become pets. Iguanas were the most exported animals, with a total of 34 million over the past 76 years. According to the report: “Although some were transported to zoos, as studied below, green iguanas are the most popular imported exotic animal in many countries.”
Iguanas were followed by sturgeon, a fish used to create caviar, and parrots, which generally become pets.
Here are the 10 most exported animals since 1976:
- Iguanas (34.0 million)
- Sturgeon (25.4 million)
- Parrots (18.7 million)
- Leeches (12.6 million)
- Pythons (8.8 million)
- Turtles (8.2 million)
- Turtles (6.6 million)
- Arowana (5.9 million)
- Giant clams (5.9 million)
- Abalone (5.5 million)
Click here to learn more about the states with the most pets.