Knight Center director reports on trafficking in wildlife skulls

Knight Center director Eric Freedman explores the dark world of illegal trafficking of wildlife skulls in “The Bone Collectors,” the cover story in the winter issue of Earth Island Journal.

It’s a story of greed, intrigue, science, conspiracies, mysticism, collectors, corruption and investigators.

It’s a story of a wide range of animals, many of them endangered or threatened, including helmeted hornbills, Bornean orangutans, tigers, walruses, African antelopes and rhinos.

And it’s a story that stretches from the MSU Museum and the Smithsonian to Southeast Asia to Alaska to the U.S.-Canadian border.

As for long-term implications, Freedman writes, “Experts warn that the illegal trade in skulls and other wildlife parts creates a major obstacle to the preservation of biodiversity.”

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