Practices Against Bio-smuggling is in Progress

One of the most important reasons that threaten bio-diversity and ecosystem in our

day, where natural life rapidly ceases to exist is unauthorized collecting of the plants,

insects and animals in purpose to export; in other words, bio-smuggling.

Bio-smuggling defined as unauthorized collecting of plants, insects and animals from

nature and exporting them, and IU Faculty of Forestry, Department of Forest

Engineering academic member Asst. Prof. Dr. Vedat Beşkardeş commented on bio-

smuggling’s effects on nature and ecosystem.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Vedat Beşkardeş said that a lot of species are in danger of extinction

in today’s world because of the growth of the cities and industry, and he also added

that the collecting of creatures for different purposes and exporting them without

permission can negatively affect bio-diversity and even endanger endemic plants and

animal species to go extinct.

“Especially Endemic Species are in Danger”

Mentioning the effects of bio-smuggling to the nature Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş said:

“Bio-smuggling can cause some of the species which are in danger of extinction to

actually go extinct. Especially one particular species we unwittingly wipe away from

existence may be a cure for a lot of diseases in the future, which we are not able to

cure at the present time. Unfortunately we are not aware of this. This perspective is

with regard to humankind. When we look at it from the point of ecosystem, we cause

a serious destruction. The number of species we destroyed in last 100 years is more

than the number of species had become extinct in 1000 years with natural causes.”

Remarking rare and endemic species, Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş emphasized that the

exposure of these species to bio-smuggling threatens their generations.

“We Should Become Conscious Against Bio-smuggling”

Many plant and animal species are smuggled for medical purposes as well as for

hobby or commercial purposes by collectors.

Stating that it is not easy to detect bio-smuggling, Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş said

especially the village headmen and people who live in the country should be careful

about this matter. Specially while transporting to overseas; it is almost impossible to

detect little species by X-Rays. Customhouses should also watch out for such cases.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş mentioned that they emphasize this matter in conferences

they participate and by saying that raising awareness is important in this struggle, he

continued: “We will continue to raise awareness. We have to tell everyone and

everywhere that it is forbidden to collect species without permission and there is

always a chance of smuggling to overseas.”

Emphasizing Turkey’s importance for bio-diversity, Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş said:

“Turkey is important for that reason that there are approximately ten thousand plant

taxons in Turkey and one third of this is endemic. Turkey is in the middle of Europe

Siberia, Iran-Turan and Mediterranean phytogeographical regions, therefore its bio-

diversity is excessive. This diversity is also reflected on animal species.”

Mostly Insects and Butterflies are Smuggled

Species which are exposed to bio-smuggling mostly are insects and butterflies and

after that comes plants, birds, reptiles, frogs and mollusks. Apart from these, leech,

snails and scorpions, which are backboneless animals and used in medical areas,

are among most smuggled species. For birds, smuggling is common for predatory

animals such as hawks and falcons. While smuggling is not seen for mammals, they

are exposed to bloodletting for medical experiments.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş mentioned Rhino beetle, which has been subject to the

media recently, and added; “People started gathering it because it makes a lot of

money. It is also an example of bio-smuggling. It had never been mentioned but then

it started to be caught. It has no money value; it was not something to be sold.”

Mentioning the economical side of bio-smuggling, Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş said that

“It is thought that today money spent for bio-smuggling around the world is about 30-

100 billion dollars. Of course, for this illegally rhino horns, and ivory hunting and

selling and buying of turtle shells, illegal fish hunting and illegal forestry activities are

also included. When it comes to our country; our plant and animals species which

belongs to our country are smuggled overseas without permission, the smuggler

does not pay from the money he or she receives and if he or she starts breeding that

kind in his or her country, they do not pay any royalty rate from what they earn. And

this means stealing from national wealth.”

Struggle Started in the Year of 2013

In order to work legally with plant and animal species, one has to get permission from

Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks. For strolling of bio-

smuggling, Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, Gendarme, Law

Enforces and village headmen all work together. When it comes to law dimension of

bio-smuggling, Law of Misdemeanor is looked at and to take criminal actions, they

are served with fine according to the deeds of The Law of The Jungle, Law on

Environment, Law of Land Hunting. Apart from these, there is no enforcement. Also,

person or persons might not pay any fine after they go overseas. For the receipt of

penalty, there are works in Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks.

Struggle with bio-smuggling has first started in 2013 by Directorate of Nature

Conservation and National Parks. A Guide for Struggling with Bio-Smuggling was

published within the scope of A Project for Struggling with Bio-Smuggling. In this

regard, Asst. Prof. Dr. Beşkardeş has explained the conferences made within the

year of 2015 and the fact that she attended Workshops for Struggling with Bio-

smuggling with IU Faculty of Forestry academicians Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zeynel

Arslangündoğu, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Devrim Elvan, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erdem Hızal and

Asst. Prof. Ergün Bacak, and she expressed how in the meetings  backboned and

backboneless animals were exposed to bio-struggling and precautions needed to be

taken against big-struggling and legislation side of it were discussed and the fact that

they informed STK (Non-governmental organizations) representors, village headmen

and students.


Translation: Merve Ceren EROĞLU, Zeynep ÇELEBİ

IU Press and Public Relations Directorate

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