When people think of environmental problems they probably think of pollution, but the poaching of wild animals is one, too. Poaching has affected environments for years and, despite laws, this horrific crime has yet to be stopped. Poaching is a serious problem, especially in Africa and Asia. This crime is committed for commercial profit, meaning hunters kill animals illegally and sell their hides and parts. Although poachers usually hunt tigers, elephants and rhinos, they kill sharks and whales, too. This illegal hunting has led to shrinking populations of many species. Many nations have banned poaching, but enforcement is difficult. The small number of police officers trained to deal with this creates an unfair advantage for poachers.
Poachers usually kill animals for only one product: tigers are slaughtered for their striped fur, elephants are killed for their ivory tusks and rhinos their large horn. The bodies of the animals are left to rot. Sharks are lured to boats and caught on a hook that pulls them aboard. Their dorsal fins are cut off and their bodies thrown back into the ocean. Without fins they can’t swim and will die. The illegally obtained fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia. The laws that”protect” animals are no more than pieces of paper. The current poaching bans need better e enforcement.
The number of enforcers needs to be increased so that there are enough to watch the herds and make sure poachers can’t shoot the animals. The reserve parks in Africa should become a huge zoo so that the animals can migrate but within a fenced area.Another idea is to build a cement enclosure instead of fences. Watchtowers could be constructed so enforcers can monitor a wide variety of poacher targets. This May not completely end the problem, but it would slow it down. Poaching Is a serious problem and a criminal act. The effects of poaching will be felt for centuries to come, and if there are any still alive, the only place to see animals might be in a zoo.
South Africa has by far the largest population of rhinos in the world and is an incredibly important country for rhino conservation. From 2007-2014 the country experienced an exponential rise in rhino poaching – a growth of over 9,000%. Most illegal activity occurs in Kruger National Park, a 19,485 km2 of protected habitat on South Africa’s northeastern border with Mozambique. Kruger consistently suffered heavy poaching loses, and so in the last few years the government and international donors have channelled ever more funding and resources into securing the Park.
In 2016, figures show a dip in poaching in South Africa for the second year in a row, indicating that increased protection efforts are paying off. Although it is encouraging to see South Africa’s poaching levels fall, the losses are still extremely high. A rise in incidents outside Kruger National Park also points to the growing sophistication of poaching gangs that are gaining a wider geographical coverage and – it would seem – expanding their operations across borders.
The current poaching crisis actually began in Zimbabwe, where the difficult socio-economic and political climate facilitated rhino poaching. Once the easy pickings had been had in Zimbabwe, poaching gangs turned their attention to neighbouring South Africa, which saw massive increases in poaching from 2009-2014.
In around 2013, the South African crisis spread to other countries in Africa. First Kenya was hit hard – its worst year for poaching was in 2013, when 59 animals were killed (more than 5% of the national population). In 2015 both Zimbabwe and Namibia were hit hard: Namibia lost 80 rhinos to poaching, up from 25 in 2014 and just two in 2012; while in Zimbabwe at least 50 rhinos were poached in 2015, more than double the previous year. For Africa as a whole, the total number of rhinos poached during 2015 was the highest in two decades.