In the belly of the beast: journalist delves into wildlife trafficking

In the belly of the beast: journalist delves into wildlife trafficking

Rachel Nuwer, at center, pretends to shop for ivory and rhino horn in Nhi Ke, a northern Vietnamese town notorious for its rampant trade in these illegal items. Most of the clientele are Chinese tourists; Nuwer had little trouble finding vendors willing to sell her ivory. Image by Do Doan Hoang. Journalist Rachel Nuwer was sitting in a Vietnamese restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City when the table next to her ordered a snake – a live, five-foot-long black cobra with its mouth bound by green twine. Slowly, the servers used scissors to cut into the reptile’s body, snipping along its belly as it writhed in pain. The scene unfolding in front of her was like something out of the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – only it was happening in the all-too-real world of wildlife trafficking that Nuwer expertly explores in her new book Poached. Ivory trading, bear bile farming, pangolin and rhino poaching: Nuwer traveled to a dozen countries to shine a light on the dark origins and underworld pathways of the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating the world’s biodiversity today. Her reporting takes readers from the killing fields of Africa, where hundreds of thousands of elephants, and tens of thousands of rhinos, have been slaughtered for their ivory and horns since the start of the 20th Century, and to the Asian marketplace, where she visits wild meat restaurants and Chinese medicine shops. Poached reveals, sometimes in sickening detail, the remarkably wide extent of…

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