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Countries exporting the most endangered species to America

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ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP // Getty Images

Countries exporting the most endangered species to America

Human activity of all kinds is putting pressure on the species that share our planet. We bulldoze the land they live on to build homes and plant crops, we dump trash into the water they live in, we pollute the air they breathe, and we are changing the climate that entire ecosystems are built around.

Humans have also always made use of animals for a wide range of purposes—some fairly basic to our survival, and others far less practical. Meat to eat, leather to wear, feathers for decoration, sea life for curios and jewelry, just to name a few. We still use the products of wild animals for all of these uses and increasingly they’re also collected for the exotic pet trade.

Some of the items in the following slideshow aren’t actually as bad as they look. You’ll see sturgeon over and over again—that’s the fish that produces caviar. Caviar is so lucrative that restrictions on fishing for sturgeon inspired an industry that raises them in captivity for their precious eggs.

This kind of legal trade has its downsides, however; whenever there’s a legal way to sell an animal product, there’s the risk of criminals using that to whitewash the products of poaching. For example, while international trade in elephant ivory is banned, antiques are still allowed to be sold in some places, and the risk that products from today’s elephants will be passed off as antiques has inspired some countries to pass stricter rules, as the U.K. did recently. It’s also important to remember that there’s also a huge amount of trade in wildlife products that is just plain outside the law. Our figures, from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Trade Database, do not account for the thousands of items smuggled into the U.S. illegally every year.

To examine the importation of endangered species to the U.S., Stacker consulted the CITES Trade Database and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. We found the top 50 countries that have exported the most endangered animal species (in the form of live animals as well as animal products) to the U.S. between 2008–2018, according to importer/exporter reported quantity. Endangered species here are species listed as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. For each country, we give the top three species exported to the U.S. and the total number of specimens imported.

You may also like: Most imported endangered animals to America

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City Foodsters // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Republic of Moldova

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 13,122 (12 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 8,872; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Sterlet (Scientific name: Acipenser ruthenus; Quantity: 4,250; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Beluga (Scientific name: Huso huso; Quantity: 1; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

Sturgeon have existed for more than 250 million years, preceding and long outliving the dinosaurs. We’ve been eating their eggs for a long time, too—at least since 2400 B.C.—and it’s looking like our appetite for caviar may be their downfall. Partly due to overfishing in the Republic of Moldova, sturgeon are now among the most threatened animals on earth: 85% are now at risk of extinction.

[Pictured: White sturgeon caviar, Honolulu, HI]

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife // Wikimedia Commons

#49. El Salvador

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 13,402 (22 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Hawksbill turtle (Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata; Quantity: 9,170; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Green turtle (Scientific name: Chelonia mydas; Quantity: 3,491; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Central Asian tortoise (Scientific name: Testudo horsfieldii; Quantity: 625; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

One of El Salvador’s rarest of species is the hawksbill turtle, which has been harvested since ancient times to make prized tortoiseshell jewelry, combs and brushes, and other ornamental objects. European traders started fishing for them in the Carribean and Central America in the mid-17th century. Despite a ban on international trade that was implemented in 1977, due to their plummeting numbers, domestic use is still permitted in some countries, and illegal trade continues.

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Aquaimages // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Palau

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 14,091 (77 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Smooth giant clam (Scientific name: Tridacna derasa; Quantity: 12,930; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: shells; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Serpent coral (Scientific name: Pachyseris rugosa; Quantity: 564; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: raw corals; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Acropora aspera (Scientific name: Acropora aspera; Quantity: 366; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: scientific)

Poor Acropora asperadoesn’t even have a common English name, but that’s the least of its problems. This coral is subject to all the threats that affect coral reefs like bleaching, ocean warming, and the disappearance of its habitat. In Palau, it’s also preyed on by the crown of thorns starfish, a spiny sea star that sometimes attacks coral reefs in huge numbers.

[Pictured: Tridacna maxima clam, Palau]

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Unsplash

#47. Russian Federation

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 15,765 (121 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 5,808; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Beluga (Scientific name: Huso huso; Quantity: 4,878; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: personal)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 1,453; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: personal)

Russia is a leader in restocking sturgeon, with over a billion young released from their fish farms recently. They’ve also banned fishing for wild sturgeon since 2007, with punishment including up to three years in prison. Unfortunately, many of the last remaining natural spawning population of the Russian sturgeon are nevertheless poached in the area of the Volgograd dam, which blocks their migration and is responsible for the loss of 90% of the spawning grounds of the Beluga sturgeon.

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Joe McKenna // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Democratic Republic of the Congo

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 16,448 (36 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Eastern gorilla (Scientific name: Gorilla beringei; Quantity: 11,026; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Bonobo (Scientific name: Pan paniscus; Quantity: 3,622; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Chimpanzee (Scientific name: Pan troglodytes; Quantity: 1,092; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

Hunting for their gorilla meat, a luxury food among wealthy urbanites in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the biggest threat to this species. Gorilla body parts are also used in traditional medicine and as magical charms. Juveniles are taken alive to be sold as pets to private owners, which often involves killing several members of a family group. All of this is illegal at national and international levels, but enforcement is insufficient partly due to war and unrest in the area, and government corruption.

[Pictured: Eastern Lowland gorilla of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo]

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NPS // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Nicaragua

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 17,697 (53 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Hawksbill turtle (Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata; Quantity: 13,980; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Isostichopus fuscus (Scientific name: Isostichopus fuscus; Quantity: 2,373; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: bodies; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Green turtle (Scientific name: Chelonia mydas; Quantity: 870; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

Isostichopus fuscus, the brown sea cucumber, isn't a particularly attractive little creature. But they're a valuable cash crop in many places like Nicaragua because of their importance in Chinese culture, where the brown sea cucumber is served for special occasions. 

[Pictured: Green sea turtle in Biscayne National Park]

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Yara shark // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Ukraine

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 17,970 (60 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Central Asian tortoise (Scientific name: Testudo horsfieldii; Quantity: 16,300; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Polar bear (Scientific name: Ursus maritimus; Quantity: 320; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: derivatives; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Beluga (Scientific name: Huso huso; Quantity: 301; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: eggs; Top purpose: personal)

Polar bears are the poster child for the environmental impact of climate change. They’re classed as vulnerable specifically because of the continuing loss of sea ice. Elsewhere in Ukraine, the fate of the Central Asian tortoise and beluga are also of chief concern among environmentalists.

[Pictured: Polar bear, Nikolaev Zoo, Ukraine]

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DFAT // Flickr

#43. Federated States of Micronesia

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 18,403 (53 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Smooth giant clam (Scientific name: Tridacna derasa; Quantity: 14,809; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Tipped bubblegum coral (Scientific name: Physogyra lichtensteini; Quantity: 1,600; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Giant clam (Scientific name: Tridacna gigas; Quantity: 1,000; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

Giant clams are popular for saltwater aquariums, a hobby that was once reserved for specialists, but it has exploded in popularity with the availability of improved equipment. This trade is putting increasing pressure on invertebrates like clams and coral in areas like the Federated States of Micronesia.

[Pictured: Federated States of Micronesia landscape]

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Creative Commons // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Cambodia

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 19,468 (70 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- White-rumped vulture (Scientific name: Gyps bengalensis; Quantity: 6,218; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: feathers; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Slender-billed vulture (Scientific name: Gyps tenuirostris; Quantity: 5,126; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: feathers; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Red-headed vulture (Scientific name: Sarcogyps calvus; Quantity: 3,300; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: feathers; Top purpose: scientific)

One of the major threats to vultures in Cambodia is the veterinary drug diclofenac. It is fatal to vultures that feed on the carcasses of animals that were treated with this drug. In an important development, the government of Cambodia recently banned the sale and use of diclofenac.

[Pictured: White-rumped vulture]

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Rs3 // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Bahamas

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 20,194 (148 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Andros Island Iguana (Scientific name: Cyclura cychlura; Quantity: 6,438; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Green turtle (Scientific name: Chelonia mydas; Quantity: 5,895; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Hawksbill turtle (Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata; Quantity: 2,011; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: personal)

The Andros Island iguana is hunted for food, but it’s also captured for the pet trade in the Bahamas. The iguana’s habitat is being degraded by human influence including logging, development, and feral domestic animals like dogs, hogs, and goats. The population has declined severely—at least by 50%—over the past 60 years.

[Pictured: Andros Island, Bahamas]

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Gorgo // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Uganda

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 21,177 (61 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Eastern gorilla (Scientific name: Gorilla beringei; Quantity: 11,389; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 6,673; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Chimpanzee (Scientific name: Pan troglodytes; Quantity: 1,357; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

Chimpanzees are still the most abundant of great apes, but their numbers are declining due to human impacts on their habitat in areas like Uganda. Deforestation for development including logging and farming not only reduces the area available to them, but also confines them to small isolated patches of forest. Due to lax law enforcement, they also continue to be hunted, both for bushmeat and to capture young chimps for the pet trade. In addition to these threats, they are being affected by disease outbreaks; Ebola, in particular, presents a significant risk.

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Nadina // Wikimidia Commons

#39. Tunisia

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 22,769 (10 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- European Eel (Scientific name: Anguilla anguilla; Quantity: 22,764; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 4; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: circus or travelling exhibition)
--- Common tortoise (Scientific name: Testudo graeca; Quantity: 1; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: personal)

One big reason eel are endangered: They can be delicious. Eel are part of traditional cuisine in Asia, many parts of Europe and Tunisia. Their complicated life cycle means they’re subject to the threats posed to many different aquatic environments worldwide, since they migrate great distances between oceans and rivers, a journey that takes young eels two years.

[Pictured: European eel]

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TimVickers // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Peru

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 23,457 (160 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Humboldt penguin (Scientific name: Spheniscus humboldti; Quantity: 10,050; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Nancy Ma's night monkey (Scientific name: Aotus nancymaae; Quantity: 2,281; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Loggerhead turtle (Scientific name: Caretta caretta; Quantity: 546; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

The Humboldt penguin breeds in Peru, where its colonies have been declining. Other birds in their habitat produce guano—feces that are mined and used for fertilizer. This mining has been a threat to the penguins in the past because the penguins burrow into it for nesting. Guano is now carefully managed to protect the breeding birds.

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dr.scott.mills // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Tonga

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 23,957 (135 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Euphyllia cristata (Scientific name: Euphyllia cristata; Quantity: 8,822; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Smooth giant clam (Scientific name: Tridacna derasa; Quantity: 5,993; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Euphyllia paraancora (Scientific name: Euphyllia paraancora; Quantity: 2,963; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

Giant clams have been harvested by humans since the mid-19th century, both for food and for their shells, which are used for decoration and crafts. They're large, immobile, and live in shallow waters, so they're particularly easy to find in locales like Tonga. These clams are now under additional pressure from degradation of their habitat and climate change, though. One study showed that warming water interferes with their development, causing abnormalities in the larval stages.

[Pictured: Nuku island in Tonga]

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HENGHAMEH FAHIMI/AFP // Getty Images

#36. Iran

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 24,639 (50 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Beluga (Scientific name: Huso huso; Quantity: 23,000; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: personal)
--- Persian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser persicus; Quantity: 750; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: personal)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 468; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: personal)

Caviar isn’t traditionally eaten in Iran due to religious prohibitions, but since around 1980, this country has been the leading exporter of caviar to the rest of the world. Despite a trade embargo, they sell it to the U.S., too: The ban on importing food products was lifted in 2000.

[Pictured: An Iranian Turkmen worker packages Beluga caviar]

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Adam Jones, Ph.D. // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Rwanda

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 25,906 (35 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Eastern gorilla (Scientific name: Gorilla beringei; Quantity: 25,195; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Grey crowned-crane (Scientific name: Balearica regulorum; Quantity: 500; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Chimpanzee (Scientific name: Pan troglodytes; Quantity: 147; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

The grey crowned-crane is native to Rwanda, where its numbers have plummeted by 80% over the last forty years, leaving only around 500 in the wild. The crane is affected by degradation and loss of its wetland habitat, and is hunted for its eggs and its colorful feathers, which are said to have medicinal value.

[Pictured: Grey-Crowned Crane, Rwanda]

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EVARISTO SA/AFP // Getty Images

#34. Brazil

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 26,257 (194 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Loggerhead turtle (Scientific name: Caretta caretta; Quantity: 9,553; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Hawksbill turtle (Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata; Quantity: 2,947; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: skin pieces; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Green turtle (Scientific name: Chelonia mydas; Quantity: 2,082; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

The green turtle is named such because of the color of its fat and cartilage. Despite being a protected species, green turtles are still hunted for their meat and their shells throughout Brazil, and their eggs are collected as well.

[Pictured: A newborn loggerhead turtle, Brazil]

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Bernard DUPONT // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Kenya

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 27,576 (86 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 16,857; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Grevy's zebra (Scientific name: Equus grevyi; Quantity: 8,282; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Hippopotamus (Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius; Quantity: 1,309; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

The majority of the population of the Grevy’s zebra lives in Kenya. This species’ numbers are only about half of what they were in the 1980s, with a current total of just over 2,000. While this number has held steady for the last decade, the zebras are threatened by hunting, particularly for their skins, and by competition with livestock for grazing and water.

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N.A.Nazeer // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Jordan

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 27,857 (38 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Common tortoise (Scientific name: Testudo graeca; Quantity: 21,256; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Egyptian Mastigure (Scientific name: Uromastyx aegyptia; Quantity: 5,402; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Indian star tortoise (Scientific name: Geochelone elegans; Quantity: 1,114; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

The common tortoise and Indian star tortoise are collected for the pet trade. The Indian star tortoise with its striking shell pattern is a particularly favored target of poachers in Jordan. Despite the Indian star being protected in all the countries that it is native to, it’s the species of freshwater turtle most often confiscated in illegal trade.

[Pictured: Indian star tortoise]

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RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP // Getty Images

#31. Panama

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 32,285 (91 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Colombian night monkey (Scientific name: Aotus lemurinus; Quantity: 26,214; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 2,206; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: extract; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Staghorn coral (Scientific name: Acropora cervicornis; Quantity: 858; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: raw corals; Top purpose: scientific)

Night monkeys are the only New World monkey species that are nocturnal. Like other tropical species, night monkeys are threatened by habitat being lost to human use, including coffee plantations. Locals also hunt the monkeys for food and for the pet trade. Scientifically, the monkeys are used in biomedical research because they’re susceptible to malaria, but most for this use are bred in captivity.

[Pictured: Grey-bellied night monkeys, Colombia]

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Bernard DUPONT // Flickr

#30. Madagascar

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 36,849 (388 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Radiated tortoise (Scientific name: Astrochelys radiata; Quantity: 3,647; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Golden mantella (Scientific name: Mantella aurantiaca; Quantity: 3,335; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Nosy Be flat-tail gecko (Scientific name: Uroplatus ebenaui; Quantity: 2,964; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

Rare tortoises, frogs, and lizards are all native to Madagascar, and all are found in the international pet trade. The tiny, brightly colored mantella frog is at risk because it’s found only in a very limited area that’s increasingly being encroached on by humans engaged in illegal gold mining.

[Pictured: Golden mantella frog, Madagascar]

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Tontantravel // Flickr

#29. Thailand

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 40,852 (256 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 18,520; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 10,869; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siamese crocodile (Scientific name: Crocodylus siamensis; Quantity: 7,243; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)

The Siamese crocodile was reported to be virtually extinct in the 1990s. They were hunted throughout the 20th century for their skin and to stock crocodile farms, eliminating them from 99% of their original range. Small, fragmented populations remain in parts of Thailand, but they’re threatened by the collection of eggs and animals and further habitat loss.

[Pictured: Siamese crocodile, Thailand]

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China Photos // Getty Images

#28. Hong Kong

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 42,051 (351 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Spotted seahorse (Scientific name: Hippocampus kuda; Quantity: 14,172; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: bodies; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Tiger (Scientific name: Panthera tigris; Quantity: 6,192; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: derivatives; Top purpose: personal)
--- Hippopotamus (Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius; Quantity: 4,706; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: commercial)

Only 4,000 tigers are estimated to exist in the wild, compared to 100,000 a century ago. Tigers are hunted for use in traditional Chinese medicine, and while China banned the use of tiger parts in 1993 and medical groups removed them from their official ingredients, a black market persists. In 2018, this policy was reversed and trade in parts from the approximately 6,000 tigers on Chinese farms was legalized. 

[Pictured: An officer of Lhasa Custom inspects a tiger skin in China.]

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ukhomeoffice // Wikimedia Commons

#27. United Kingdom

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 42,276 (1,037 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 19,096; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: personal)
--- Asian elephant (Scientific name: Elephas maximus; Quantity: 8,714; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 6,963; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)

International trade in elephant ivory has been banned since 1990, but some countries still allow certain kinds of sales. For example, the U.K. previously allowed the sale of items made from ivory that were made before 1947. In late 2018, the U.K. passed a law said to be one of the toughest in the world that prohibited all trade, regardless of the age of the item.

[Pictured: Items seized by Border Force, U.K.]

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NPS // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Zimbabwe

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 58,778 (215 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 47,439; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 7,660; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)
--- Adriatic sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser naccarii; Quantity: 1,374; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

The Burmese python is vulnerable to endangerment in Zimbabwe, but the slithering creatures are causing havoc elsewhere. Florida now has an established population of Burmese pythons descended from released captive specimens, and they're eating some native species to the point of no return: In some areas of the Everglades several small mammal species are essentially gone.

[Pictured: American alligator and a Burmese python locked in a struggle, Everglades National Park]

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Stefan Lins // Flickr

#25. Marshall Islands

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 71,393 (848 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 57,187; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: skin pieces; Top purpose: hunting trophy)
--- Hippopotamus (Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius; Quantity: 12,301; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: trophies; Top purpose: hunting trophy)
--- Leopard (Scientific name: Panthera pardus; Quantity: 1,415; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: trophies; Top purpose: hunting trophy)

The leopard’s beauty is also its downfall. Hunting for skins and trophies currently poses a risk to their continued survival, particularly in the Marshall Islands. Despite their vulnerable status, it’s perfectly legal to import a leopard trophy to the U.S., although you have to apply for a permit.

[Pictured: The Marshall Islands]

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Nhobgood // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Spain

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 77,343 (104 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Smooth giant clam (Scientific name: Tridacna derasa; Quantity: 52,703; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Acropora microclados (Scientific name: Acropora microclados; Quantity: 8,237; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Euphyllia ancora (Scientific name: Euphyllia ancora; Quantity: 5,365; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

Giant clams play an important role in their native ecosystems, so their reduced numbers from overharvesting and habitat degradation pose a risk to the whole coral reef. They filter seawater, recycle nutrients, and keep algae in check. Their large, tough shells even help form the actual structure of the reef.

[Pictured: Euphyllia ancora]

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Bernard DUPONT // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Fiji

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 82,962 (231 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Serpent coral (Scientific name: Pachyseris rugosa; Quantity: 20,525; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Octopus coral (Scientific name: Galaxea astreata; Quantity: 20,041; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Euphyllia paraancora (Scientific name: Euphyllia paraancora; Quantity: 6,424; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

The serpent coral is harvested for the aquarium trade in Fiji. The United States is the world’s largest importer of coral reef species for aquariums as well as various decorative uses, and a World Wildlife Federation (WWF) report found that these imports increased five-fold from 2000–2009. 

[Pictured: Serpent coral]

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Barry Peters // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Belize

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 85,305 (93 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Elkhorn coral (Scientific name: Acropora palmata; Quantity: 34,713; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Scalloped hammerhead (Scientific name: Sphyrna lewini; Quantity: 29,622; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Staghorn coral (Scientific name: Acropora cervicornis; Quantity: 15,462; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: raw corals; Top purpose: scientific)

Hammerheads were once abundant in the coastal waters of Central America, but their numbers had diminished by the 1970s. Poachers fished for their highly valued fins, but hammerheads are also at high risk of being caught as both adults and juveniles in large numbers, due to their schooling behavior.

[Pictured: Scalloped hammerheads]

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region // Flickr

#21. Japan

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 85,826 (1,725 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Shortnose sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser brevirostrum; Quantity: 25,001; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: eggs (live); Top purpose: scientific)
--- Polar bear (Scientific name: Ursus maritimus; Quantity: 24,670; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 7,215; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: personal)

Most polar bear pelts in international trade come from Canada, where hunting them is legal and the government’s position is that such trade can be done sustainably. Others disagree, given the high numbers of bears killed—over 900 per year worldwide since the 1960s—and the threats that climate change poses to their habitat in areas like Japan. While prices and demand have dropped, pelts are still worth $12,000 and $15,000 each.

[Polar Bear skin seized in N.J.]

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NOAA Photo Library // Wikimedia Commons

#20. South Africa

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 95,417 (183 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- European Eel (Scientific name: Anguilla anguilla; Quantity: 89,990; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: meat; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Paddlefish (Scientific name: Polyodon spathula; Quantity: 960; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Blue whale (Scientific name: Balaenoptera musculus; Quantity: 864; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

The critically endangered European eel is farmed in captivity, but this doesn’t reduce pressure on wild populations. “Farming” in this case is actually capturing young eels from the wild and raising them to maturity.

[Pictured: Blue whale]

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Bernard DUPONT // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Solomon Islands

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 116,420 (2,275 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Black-footed cat (Scientific name: Felis nigripes; Quantity: 52,824; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 28,714; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: trophies; Top purpose: hunting trophy)
--- Hippopotamus (Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius; Quantity: 12,344; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: tusks; Top purpose: hunting trophy)

The population of the hippopotamus is believed to be fairly stable, after declines in the 1990s and early 2000s. However they are still considered vulnerable in places like the Solomon Islands because of habitat loss and hunting. Hippo tusks are used as an alternative to elephant ivory, which is banned from international trade. Sale of hippo ivory is legal, but it’s increasingly being criticized by conservationists as poorly regulated and a threat to hippos’ survival.

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Stan Shebs // Wikimedia Commons

#18. France

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 131,545 (204 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Blue coral (Scientific name: Heliopora coerulea; Quantity: 58,770; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: raw corals; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Smooth giant clam (Scientific name: Tridacna derasa; Quantity: 19,582; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Disc coral (T. reniformis) (Scientific name: Turbinaria reniformis; Quantity: 10,908; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: raw corals; Top purpose: commercial)

France has a long history of respected brands of caviar and once boasted caviar from its own population of the European sturgeon, but that succumbed to overfishing and this type is now illegal to sell. France now produces caviar from sturgeon raised via modern aquaculture techniques. Unfortunately, consumers in France and elsewhere often prefer caviar from wild fish.

[Pictured: Disc coral]

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MIGUEL ROJO/AFP // Getty Images

#17. Uruguay

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 193,105 (1,007 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 106,400; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 55,352; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 19,166; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

Not all countries that export caviar from endangered species are doing so illegally. Aquaculture started in the countries that are the sturgeon’s native range, but has since expanded beyond to places like Uruguay, which has a successful industry exporting both caviar and sturgeon meat.

[Pictured: Young sturgeons swim in a pool at the sturgeon farm in Baygorria.]

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Charles J Sharp // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Belgium

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 219,532 (77 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 159,441; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 59,878; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 68; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: commercial)

Belgium is a major hub for trade in Europe. This includes the illegal wildlife trade, according to a 2018 report by WWF, Belgium, and TRAFFIC, a non-government organization specializing in wildlife trafficking issues. Law enforcement seized 4,318 ivory items between 2007–2016, including carvings and whole elephant tusks.

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Daniel Döhne // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Uzbekistan

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 260,842 (199 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 151,040; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 99,133; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Sterlet (Scientific name: Acipenser ruthenus; Quantity: 9,493; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

Uzbekistan is one of many countries that’s been developing sturgeon farming for the production of caviar. It’s a business that’s been appealing to get into because of the high price for this luxury good, but the market might be changing. Production has increased—particularly in China—to the point that prices have started to decline.

[Pictured: Juvenile Russian sturgeon]

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DickDaniels // Wikimedia Commons

#14. South Korea

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 262,520 (26 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Central Asian tortoise (Scientific name: Testudo horsfieldii; Quantity: 262,518; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 1; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: eggs; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Gray parrot (Scientific name: Psittacus erithacus; Quantity: 1; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: personal)

The gray parrot is listed as endangered specifically because of the volume of international trade of the species, although the continuing loss of its African habitat isn’t helping. An estimated 1.3 million gray parrots were exported legally over the past 40 years, but many also were traded illegally, often in conditions where they don’t survive. In 2016, the legal trade was banned, but wild-caught birds are still sold with fake paperwork claiming they’re captive bred.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Vietnam

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 287,214 (178 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 204,279; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Sterlet (Scientific name: Acipenser ruthenus; Quantity: 41,098; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian musk deer (Scientific name: Moschus moschiferus; Quantity: 23,476; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: medicine; Top purpose: commercial)

The musk deer is hunted for the musk gland found in the males, which is used in medicines, perfumes, and as a flavoring. Both legal and illegal hunting have caused its population to decline, and one study found that the increasing construction of roads for logging is impacting them as well, both degrading their habitat and making them more accessible to hunters.

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ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP // GettyImages

#12. Australia

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 417,960 (466 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Spotted seahorse (Scientific name: Hippocampus kuda; Quantity: 231,277; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Tiger tail seahorse (Scientific name: Hippocampus comes; Quantity: 56,801; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 36,295; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: meat; Top purpose: commercial)

Buying a dried seahorse as a souvenir from a beach vacation may seem like harmless fun, but trade is driving these creatures to the brink. They’re also sold live for the aquarium trade and are used in traditional medicine. Many countries including Australia have banned their export, but a study found that illegal trade apparently continues from those countries, as well.

[Pictured: More than 16,000 dried seahorses seized]

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Anne Hoggett // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Ecuador

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 466,070 (729 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Woylie (Scientific name: Bettongia penicillata; Quantity: 207,750; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: hair; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Wonder coral (Scientific name: Catalaphyllia jardinei; Quantity: 74,255; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Euphyllia ancora (Scientific name: Euphyllia ancora; Quantity: 64,129; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)

Euphyllia ancora is a striking coral that is popular for saltwater aquariums, a hobby that’s increasing in popularity in the U.S.—it’s estimated at least 700,000 American homes have one. Aside from collecting for the aquarium trade, Euphyllia ancora is also subject to all the threats facing coral reefs due to climate change.

[Pictured: Euphyllia ancora]

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Thomas O'Neil // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Hungary

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 484,844 (81 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Isostichopus fuscus (Scientific name: Isostichopus fuscus; Quantity: 477,234; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: bodies; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Floreana giant tortoise (Scientific name: Chelonoidis niger; Quantity: 3,500; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)
--- Galapagos hawk (Scientific name: Buteo galapagoensis; Quantity: 1,210; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: specimens; Top purpose: scientific)

Reduced numbers of Isostichopus fuscus, the brown sea cucumber, may pose a risk to the health of their ecosystems. Sea cucumbers are bottom-dwellers that actually process sand and rubble through their digestive systems. The end product is alkaline, which could help reduce the effect of increasing human-caused ocean acidification.

[Pictured: Galapagos hawk] 

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OLIVIER MORIN/AFP // Getty Images

#9. Italy

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 522,763 (52 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Sterlet (Scientific name: Acipenser ruthenus; Quantity: 227,001; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: eggs (live); Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 138,072; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: eggs (live); Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 137,631; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

Sturgeon are at risk of extinction partly due to the demand for caviar, but human activity impacts them in other ways as well. They are migratory, leaving the ocean to swim upstream to spawn, so the damming of rivers has resulted in lost access to spawning grounds all over their range. Sturgeon are also long-lived—some may live up to 100 years—and reproduce slowly; females of some species don’t reach sexual maturity until 25 years old.

[Pictured: An employee extracts eggs of a female sturgeon at the Agro Ittica Lombarda sturgeons farm]

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SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/AFP // Getty Images

#8. Germany

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 544,509 (667 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 206,024; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 174,250; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 139,256; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

Although fishing for endangered species of sturgeon is regulated and banned, poaching is a major problem. Germany is a major hub of the illegal caviar trade; between 2001–2010, 53% of the confiscations in European Union countries took place there. One study found that illegal wild caviar from Russian sources was frequently laundered through Hamburg and Düsseldorf. 

[Pictured: An employee packs Sturgeon caviar at Wermsdorfer Fisch GmbH fishing company in Espenhain, Germany]

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minniemouseant // Flickr

#7. Canada

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 1.0 million (790 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 616,827; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 281,730; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Amur sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser schrenckii; Quantity: 136,865; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

The St. John River in New Brunswick, Canada, is the last place where it's legal to fish for sturgeon, but the quota is only 350 fish per year. The river produced 712 metric tons of sturgeon in the 1880s, but even back then it needed to be closed for a decade because of overfishing. Canada now farms sturgeon for the production of caviar, also.

[Pictured: St. John River in New Brunswick]

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Silvain Le Bris // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Mexico

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 1.4 million (712 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Isostichopus fuscus (Scientific name: Isostichopus fuscus; Quantity: 1.3 million; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: bodies; Top purpose: commercial)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 43,251; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)
--- European Eel (Scientific name: Anguilla anguilla; Quantity: 40,940; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)

The brown sea cucumber is a slow-growing species that matures late, so populations can't easily recover from overharvesting. Harvesting on the Baja California peninsula was banned in 1994 because of reduced numbers, but opened again with restrictions, including a requirement for permits. Collectors risk their lives to gather them, with cases of the bends and even deaths reported.

[Pictured: Isostichopus fuscus

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Scotted400 // Wikimedia Commons

#5. China

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 1.4 million (459 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- European Eel (Scientific name: Anguilla anguilla; Quantity: 1.1 million; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: meat; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 126,211; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Green peafowl (Scientific name: Pavo muticus; Quantity: 88,157; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: feathers; Top purpose: commercial)

Peafowl are the birds most of us call peacocks, renowned for the male’s resplendent tail feather display. The beauty of those tail feathers may be causing them trouble, though. The green peafowl is endangered due to intensive hunting, as well as fragmentation and human development of its habitat. There are believed to be fewer than 500 of this species left in the wild in China, which is fewer than the number of giant pandas.

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Pixabay

#4. Indonesia

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 1.5 million (1,799 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Euphyllia ancora (Scientific name: Euphyllia ancora; Quantity: 259,889; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Heliofungia actiniformis (Scientific name: Heliofungia actiniformis; Quantity: 242,413; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: live; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Walrus (Scientific name: Odobenus rosmarus; Quantity: 210,227; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: commercial)

The walrus is still common in Indonesia, but they are listed as vulnerable because of threats to their habitat. Climate change is reducing the sea ice that they need to survive. It is legal for native Alaskans to sell walrus ivory, but people have been tried and convicted for illegally importing Alaskan walrus ivory to Indonesia to be made into carvings, and then importing them back to the U.S.

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Charles J Sharp // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Israel

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 1.7 million (88 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 1.4 million; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 332,174; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: extract; Top purpose: commercial)
--- African bush elephant (Scientific name: Loxodonta africana; Quantity: 153; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: ivory carvings; Top purpose: circus or traveling exhibition)

International trade in elephant tusk ivory has been banned since 1990, but illegal trade continues. At the 2019 international conference, several African nations proposed a change in rules that would have allowed them to sell their existing stockpiles, but it was rejected. Israel proposed the creation of a CITES listing for the wooly mammoth so that trade in its ivory would also be banned, but the convention decided to first study the issue to see if illegal elephant ivory was actually being sold as mammoth.

[Pictured: African bush elephant] 

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Eliezg // Wikimedia Commons

#2. United Arab Emirates

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 1.7 million (114 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Kaluga (Scientific name: Huso dauricus; Quantity: 696,047; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 663,154; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 240,392; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: caviar; Top purpose: commercial)

The population of the kaluga, another species of sturgeon popular in the United Arab Emirates harvested for its caviar, has declined more than 80% since the late 19th century. As numbers have declined, poachers have been catching younger and younger fish. Because these fish mature slowly, this means females have often had no more than one chance to reproduce in their lifetime, accelerating the population decline.

[Pictured: Kaluga sturgeon]

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Crisco1492 // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Switzerland

- Total specimens exported to the U.S., 2008-2018: 9.5 million (319 shipments)
- Top endangered animals exported:
--- Siberian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser baerii; Quantity: 7.7 million; Red list status: endangered; Top animal/product type: extract; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Russian sturgeon (Scientific name: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii; Quantity: 1.7 million; Red list status: critically endangered; Top animal/product type: extract; Top purpose: commercial)
--- Burmese python (Scientific name: Python bivittatus; Quantity: 55,863; Red list status: vulnerable; Top animal/product type: leather products (small); Top purpose: commercial)

Pythons in Southeast Asia are hunted for their skin, food, and traditional medicine. There's a large international trade in the skins of Burmese pythons, with around 100,000 exported annually. Switzerland is one of the main manufacturers of goods made with python leather. A handbag made of just half a skin can sell for several thousand dollars.

[Pictured: Python leather wallet]

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