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Poaching, in simpler words, is prohibited hunting which causes animals that are endangered, of being extinct. If more animals become extinct, there’s a major disturbance in the food chain that occurs, which will lead to cause more large-scale problems in our ecosystem, resulting eventually in new adaptations of animals/species that would be beyond human control.
Poaching may rob us of animals like elephants, rhinos, tigers, sea turtles, lemurs and gorillas forever if it continues at the increasing rate it is going at right now. Every year in the United States more than 4,000 tons of lead bullets are shot into the environment by hunters. More than 100 million animals are reported killed by hunters in the United States alone each year. That number, however, does not include the millions of animals for which killing figures are not maintained by state wildlife agencies.
I chose this topic simply out of curiosity, to find out how this single but large-scale problem creates worries and imbalances worldwide. This is a topic that affects everyone on this planet, but even apart from that, the way the animals are being treated is inhuman by the poachers. And for me, it is personally disturbing.
Several countries are currently suffering from poaching. Wildlife tourism is a humungous part of many locations across the globe. Across much of southern Africa, environmental tourism plays an essential role in local and even national economies and a decline in wildlife numbers due to poaching has immediate illustration on effects in terms of financial cutbacks, job losses, and overall economic sustainability. As a result, other crimes like illegal narcotics, wildlife trafficking and poaching profit due to the state weaknesses. Not only South Africa, but even Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, China, Thailand and the Philippines are some of the world’s worst countries for poaching and illegal trade in ivory.
Trade of animals, like tigers, occurs not only for bones for Chinese medicine but for skins for fashion in Tibet and china as well. Moreover, through well-managed animal tourism, the countries that are home to these animals can benefit from the financial boost to their economies. The numbers of tourists will also raise awareness of the plight of animals such as the tiger and help increase publicity for the campaigners.
Different types of animals are illegally hunted in various parts of the world and are spread out evenly. The toothfish and narwhals are hunted in the Antarctic, the most amount of wildlife is hunted in Asia and the Middle East.
The most elephant population losses have taken place mainly in Tanzania and Zambia, with over 100,000 definite elephant populations. However, there are large increases of elephant populations over in Kenya taking place.
As humans, to keep living like we are and have access to the food and resources we currently do, we need to the stop the killing of animal species. As soon as you hunt and kill a species of animal, it does not only affect the animal, it affects the local environment and the whole world. Taking an animal out of the food chain has a ‘collateral damage’ effect on the food chain, the environment and the human population as a whole.
Then there’s the tragic ways poaching affects people. In Africa, nearly 600 rangers charged with protecting wildlife were gunned down by poachers between 2009 and 2016 while in the line of duty. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, one of the continent’s most dangerous, at least 170 rangers have been killed during the past two decades.
What’s more, poaching has been linked to armed militia groups in Africasuspected of trafficking ivory to fund their operations, and it often occurs alongside other crimes including corruption and money laundering. And poached animals can spread disease, such as SARS and Ebola. The rising firepower of poachers and desperation of policies adopted in response—such as to shoot poachers on sight—have multiplied the violence levels associated with poaching and wildlife trafficking.
Although East Asian countries — particularly China, Vietnam, and Thailand—are the key consumption and demand markets, the United States is widely believed to be the country with the second-largest consumer market for trafficked wildlife. But new demand and supply markets are once more rising in Latin America; Much illegal trade in parrots takes place in Brazil, for example, and many affluent Mexicans love boots made of snake skins. Demand also comes from other places every so often ignored in the story of global slaughter, which take place in various East and West African countries (which are usually described as just source countries). Oceans are being emptied of creatures as well, be they sharks, tuna, sea cucumbers, or seahorses.
India, my country, is home to a vast array of wildlife species that rivals that of the African continent’s, which consists of hundreds of thousands of freely roaming animals. India continues to suffer from human-wildlife conflict and cohabitation problems but has a growing poaching problem due to demand from Southeast Asia. During 2014 the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) described 23 verified deaths of tigers due to poaching, but 58 due to other, sometimes unknown, causes. They also reported the deaths of 17 leopards due to poaching, however 30 more died that year due to other unnamed causes.India is home to 70% of the world’s tiger population. In the past 2 years, poaching of tigers in India itself has increased by an overwhelming 68%. The data from 2013 shows that 38 elephants and 41 rhinoceros were poached that year.
Moreover, there are problems going down at tiger conservations and sanctuaries as well- Indian sanctuaries are overflowing with tigers. Dr. Rajesh Gopal, head of the Global Tiger Forum, said that India’s current capacity to host tigers ranged from 2,500-3,000 tigers. Moreover, said another official, 25-35% of India’s tigers now lived outside protected reserves. While conservation efforts are aimed at increasing the tiger count in India, global experts and officials in the government suggest that India must also prepare for a new challenge, that is, of reaching the limits of its management capacity. Officially, India had 2,226 tigers as of 2014. According to the latest tiger census result for 2018 released by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on Global Tiger Day which lies on 29th June 2019, the tiger population in India has reached 2,967.This is a 30% increase in tiger population in India since 2014.
Apart from tigers, India also has a one-horned rhinos and a pangolin poaching crisis. There are less than 50 one-horned rhinoceros remaining in India as of august 2019. On the other hand, pangolin poaching is also an intensifying issue in the Western Ghats. It is considered to be the most hunted animal in the world. Pangolin scales are mostly smuggled from India and more than 100,000 Pangolins are captured every year around the world and shipped to China and Vietnam where their meat and scales are sold. The scales are believed to be a cure for several medical conditions. A kilogram of Pangolin scales is worth Rs.10,000 in local markets, however, the minimum penalty for people caught poaching Pangolins is only up to three years of imprisonment.
As an individual, I do not get affected by poaching in the metropolitan city that I live in: Mumbai. Poaching over here is infrequent due to the lack of freely-roaming wild animals in the city, but there have been cases of it in the northern, more suburban, areas. In the current year (2019) there have been3 poaching cases that sprung up, all in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is one of the world’s most visited national parks, consisting of a wide variety of species of wildlife animals.When accused, the core reasons for hunting the protected birds were curiosity the first man mentioned, while another troop of poachers ‘wanted to eat’ the deer, and the last group did not state a reason for killing the leopard.
I personally do not know what triggers a person to kill animals for their own pleasure. A few of the incentives for people to hunt is money and trophies. But other than that, as shown in the previous circumstances, none of the reasons to kill the animals was money or a trophy, and taking high risks such as killing a protected bird out of curiosity seems a poor justification for the act.
As understood, poaching can have severe consequences. Loss of wildlife due to poaching has negative effects on local tourism, which in turn affects the economy. It affects the local economy since the area starts becoming less attractive to tourists, which has an impact on all the hotels, restaurants, rentals and other attractions which would suffer great losses in revenue. To illustrate the possible impact, it should be noted that the sub-Saharan Africa attracted almost 34 billion visitors in 2012. If poaching increases the way it has been, it will create a massive financial impact not only in a few countries, but in the continent. As a result, there will be huge job losses in the tourism industry which currently employs an estimate of 8 million people.
Meanwhile, poaching threatens traditional ways of living in addition to relying on profits from state weaknesses and corruption.
The aftermath of poaching can also contribute to disease outbreaks. Trafficking poached animals includes crossing many borders and often taking circuitous routes to avoid detection. which means that several people come in contact with the possibly contaminated animals or animal parts with deadly diseases that can easily spread. This can cause an emergence in zoonotic diseases that are nearly uncontrollable, likeSARS, Ebola, and HIV that are transferred from animals to humans. One of theseoccurrences was the SARS outbreak in HongKong that had been traced to human contact with poached meat available on the black wildlife markets.
183 nations have signed the the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), pledging to fight the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade under a uniform and strict regime. The US implies CITES within its borders itself.
There are a number of private and non-profit organizations bringing attention to the problem and contributing for conservations to protect the most poached animals. I feel that this kind of public attention to the issue educates people to the consequences of their buying choices. This could remove the demand for poached animals or poached meat. And if the demand is dealt with, the supply would diminish by itself.
Personally, if the fishers’ boats and other shipments were to be inspected more heavily, it would prevent the illegal trade. In addition to maritime transport, the roadways should also be overlooked. This could avert the problem before it enters the country itself, or even stop it from going outside. However, this would be relatively difficult for the reason that its relying almost completely on the government. Even if it were made possible, it would take a rather long time for it to comeinto action. Many precautions would also have to be taken, not including the man power going behind it that would occur during all the inspections and guarding.
If there was a way to educate the poachers themselves on the risks they were getting themselves into- diseases, prison time, fatality in the wild- we could persuade them. However, that would be nearly impossible considering that most poachers only poach for money to feed themselves or their families knowing that they are risking themselves.
Before going deeper into the research of this project, I thought of it as a contained, small-scaled issue. After fact-finding and reviewing multiple articles and pictures, I understood more clearly how much deeper this problem really went, and how it is linked to much greater problems that are indeed not small-scaled. If not tackled with, it will affect the economical and environmental level much worse than it is right now. It would also cause more and more disease outbreaks going further.
Poaching is a global issue that must be brought under control at the earliest.
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