Poaching is the hunting, killing or capturing of protected animals. Poaching is illegal in most countries but in third world countries like Africa and India, there are no laws against it, which increases the chance of poaching becoming more popular and more animals becoming endangered, or even extinct. When the poachers are caught, they are fined/jailed for violating the law. These violations can be:

 

  • The poacher does not have a licence.
  • The poacher is illegally selling the animal or animal parts for money.
  • The animal is being hunted outside legal hours.
  • The hunter used an illegal weapon when hunting.
  • The animal or plant is on a reserve or in a sanctuary.
  • The animal is hunted when it is not in season (e.g. breeding season is the closed season which means that the species is protected).

 

Since the 1600’s extinction has accelerated greatly, because of the growth of human population, and the increased amount of poachers and hunters. The 2006 “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species” had approx 40,000 species and more than 16,000 of these species were seen as threatened with extinction. A third of the species’ were amphibians, a quarter was coniferous trees and mammals, and one-eighth was birds.

Since the 1600’s, the use of animals for food and other products has been one of the major causes of extinct or endangered animals.

The main reason for poaching is money. Poachers will usually try to sell the carcass, bone, tusk, and horn etc. to Black Markets where they can get good money for it. Ivory and fur are the most commonly wanted items and they can cost up to thousands of dollars. Another reason animals are poached is religion. There are some religions that believe certain animals to be pests, so they hunt them to “keep their land clean”. Some religions also protect certain animals from being hunted because they believe that the animals are sacred.

Animals are also killed for food, for clothes, wool, cosmetics, ornaments, fat, and for sport. One example of poaching is seal clubbing, in the 2010 Norwegian Olympics, seal clubbing is going to be one of the main events. Already, Norwegian hunters have killed 25,000 seal pups since the ban in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. If the sport takes part in the Olympics, this means that even more seals will be slaughtered for no real reason. These seals are helpless and have absolutely no chance of surviving the attacks from the hunters, which makes it easier for full-grown adults to run up and attack them brutally. Seal clubbing also happens often in Canada. The seal hunters use long wooden clubs with spikes on the end so the seal is killed straight away. This is an incredibly disgusting way to slaughter an innocent animal. They are mostly killed for fun, but also for their soft white fur (for pups) which is usually turned into a coat, hat, or rug. Below is another Youtube clip on seal clubbing. It is a bit graphic in some parts; so if it makes you feel uncomfortable or you have a weak stomach, then please don’t watch it.

GUAM RAIL:

Like other island birds, Guam Rails cant fly. Living in an isolated area, they had no predators and no need to fly. But after World War II, the arrival of the Brown Tree Snake became a threat, and suddenly, the Guam rails had a reason to fly, but they still cant. The Guam Rails have been protected since 1979, but now, they are extinct in the wild and less than 200 are found in conservation. The Guam rails became extinct in the 1940s – 1980s, when Brown Tree Snakes were introduced to Guam. The Brown Tree Snakes have also been responsible for the extinction of 9 other bird species on Guam.

BLUE BIRD OF PARADISE:

The bird of paradise is one of the most beautiful birds on Earth. Its beauty has also attracted the eye of hunters and this (plus the destruction of their habitat) has left the Blue Bird of Paradise under threat. They have been protected since 1975, and now there is only 2,500-10,00 left in the world The Bird of Paradise has brightly coloured feathers which is sought after by Western Collectors as well as the local people of Papua New Guinea who use them as part of a ceremonial head-dress. Hunting of the Blue Bird is now illegal but deforestation has continued to decrease its population.

Despite its size, and its reputition as the largest mammal on earth, the blue whale is a quiet, gentle creature who feeds on shrimp-like animals called ‘krill’. Although its been protected for over 40 years, its critically endangered with only 3,000 – 5,000 left in the world. By the mid – 20th century, the blue whale had been hunted almost to estinction for its blubber and for oil. Although the species is no longer hiunted, its survival is till threatened by ocean pollution and smaller supplies of its main food, krill. Recent sightings tell us that their numbers are increasing slightly. Between 1900 ands 1966, an estimated 350,000 blue whales were killed. 28,325 of these were killed from collisions with 41 ships in 1930.

 

Elephants are found in most of Africa and can also be found in many parts of Asia. Although they are the largest living land mammals in the world, all three species (African, Forest and Asian) are endangered by habitat destruction and poaching. Wild Asian elephant populations are already very small and decreasing rapidly. Their numbers have decreased because humans destroy their habitats to make room for their houses and crops. Their African cousins are threatened by local farmers and poachers who still shoot and kill the worlds largest land mammal. Between 1950 and 1990, over 4 million elephants were killed for their tusks and in the late 1980s, it was estimated that there was only half a million elephants left in the world.

Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)-

‘Launched in 1961, in response to British biologist and UNESCO advisor Julian Huxley’s campaign to piblicise the plight of wildlife in East Africa, the Worldwide Fund for Nature was the worlds first international conservation organisation. Their mission is to halt and reverse environmental degregation, and to build a future where people live in harmony with nature.’

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)-

‘EIA funds and investigates crimes against wildlife and teh environment,exposing illegal activity and bad practice around the world. EIA investigators are highly trained  and often demonstrate considerable  courage in the pursuit of evidence. Major EIA investigationshave yeildedinfo that has been used for prosecuting crimes against wildlife and the environment, and has been a factor in the changing of national and international law.’

The Born Free Foundation (BFF)-

‘The Born free foundation began as a cluster of wildlife campaigns started by the actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna and ther son Will, along with other concerned parties. Today it is one of the leading willife charities in the UK. Their mission is to prevent the suffering of wildlife animals and protect threatened species in the wild. The BFF funds research and campaigns against exploitation of and cruelty to wildlife, and for the closure of bad zoos and dolphinaria around the world.’

World Conservation Union (IUCN)-

‘The World Conservation Union was established in 1948 to protect living species and their habitats. The IUCN is now also an importantforce in tracking issues such as sustainable development to preserve the global environment. IUCN is the worlds largest and most important conservation network, bringing together 111 government agencies in 82 states, over800 non-governmental organizations and 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries. The organizations research initiatives and projects on the ground aim to publicise and tackle the problems caused by human development. IUCN is working with WWF to look at the current conservation of of the Bengal tigers living in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest.’

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)-

‘IFAW was launched in response to public outrage at the scale and brutality of the annual Newfoundland harp seeak hunt in teh late 1960s. They now campaign on a variety of animal issues. In 2004, IFAW launched a new, state-of-the-art vessel, the Song of the Whale, which is used to study and help whales and other cetaceans.’

International Whaling Committe (IWC)-

‘Commercial whaling was set to come to an end in 1986, when the IWC announced a moratorium on whaling. The moratorium – or ban – aims to protect whale populations threatened with extinction. The moratorium on whaling has been extremely controversial. The IWC has allowed several countries to hunt whales for “scientific research”. Acitivists see little difference between this and commercial whaling. Governments, such as the Japanese, however, are attempting to repeal the moratorium, stating that the whale populations are incresing and it is no longer necessary. Conservationists accuse Japan of trying to bribe IWC so they may hunt inthe pacific, but tehy havnt been successflu yet.’

WWF’s “9 to Watch” list:

1. Javan Rhinoceros

Population: Less than 60.  Location: Indonesia and Vietnam.

This is probably the rarest large mammal species in the world and is critically endangered. Poaching from the growing human population makes it harder for the rhinos to live because we are constantly destoying their environment and their lives. WWF continuously monitors these rhinos and protects them from poachers.

2. Vaquita

Population: 150. Location: Upper Gulf of California, Mexico.

The vaquita is probably the world’s smallest and most endangered marine animal, this tiny porpoise is often killed in  gillnets and could soon be extinct. WWF is working with local fishermen and private government officials on an effort to save the vaquita. This includes making a vaquita refuge, buying out gillnet fisheries and creating vaquita-friendly fishing gear and other alternatives for the fishermen and their families.

3. Cross River Gorilla

Population: 300.  Location: Nigeria and Cameroon.

The remaining forests of southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon are home to the recently discovered Cross River gorilla, a subspecies of the western gorilla. But as its forests are destroyed by timber companies, hunters move in. Conservation is urgently needed for this new animal, which is probably the world’s rarest ape. In Nigeria, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, a WWF aliance, is working with communities in the Cross River National Park to help save the Cross River gorilla.

4. Sumatran Tiger

Population: 400-500. Location: Sumatra, Indonesia.

The increase of deforestation and  poaching make the Sumatran tiger have the same fate as its extinct Javan and Balinese relatives in other parts of Indonesia. Tigers are poached for their body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, while skins are also highly saught. WWF is researching the Sumatran tiger population with camera traps. They also support anti-poaching patrols and works to reduce humans conflict with tigers as their habitat gets destroyed. Because of WWF and its partners, the Indonesian government in 2008 doubled the size of Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the most safe and promising tiger sanctuaries.

5. North Pacific Right Whale

Population: Unknown, but less than 500. Location: Northern Pacific, U.S., Russia and Japan.

The North Pacific right whale is one of the world’s rarest marine mammals, almost hunted to extinction until the 1960s. It is rarely sighted and has a bad reputition for survival because of collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing nets and the production of oil and gas in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. WWF is working to improve shipping safety to avoid collisions and trying to prevent oil and gas development in Bristol Bay, which is the whale’s favourite summer feeding ground.

6. Black-Footed Ferret

Population: 500 breeding adults. Location: Northern Great Plains, U.S. and Canada.

Found only in the Great Plains, it is one of the most endangered mammals in North America because its common prey to many larger animals, the prairie dog has been nearly killed off by ranchers who consider it to be a nuisance. WWF has been working to save the black-footed ferret and the prairie dog population, which the ferrets depend on.

7. Borneo Pygmy Elephant

Population: Maybe fewer than 1,000. Location: Borneo, Malaysia.

The Borneo Pygmy elephant is the smallest of all elephant species and is mostly endangered because of deforesting in the  lowland forests of Borneo. WWF is working to ensure protection of the pygmy elephants and tracks the elephants through the use of satellite collars to learn more about these creatures.

8. Giant Panda

Population: 1,600. Location: China.

Used as the symbol for the fund since WWF’s beginning in 1961, the giant panda faces a bad future. Its forest habitat in the mountain areas of southwest China has become lalmost completely destroyed, creating small populations. WWF has been active in giant panda conservation for nearly three decades, working to protect habitats and by assisting the Chinese government in creating a program to protect the panda and its habitat through the creation of reservation parks.

9. Polar Bear

Population: 20,000-25,000. Location: Arctic.

The greatest risk to their population now is climate change.  If warming in the Arctic continue, polar bears will be vulnerable to extinction within the next 100 years. WWF is supporting field research to understand how climate change will affect polar bears and to come up with ideas of how they could adapt. WWF also works to protect polar bear habitat by working with government to reduce threats from shipping and oil and gas development in the region.

The population of rhinos in Africa has decreased from 830 to 740 in the last year. This sounds even worse when you hear that records show that many of the rhinos have been reproducing well in captivity and in the wild.

The rhinos are killed for their large horn. The horns are sold to some Asian countries and used in traditional medicine and they can also be carved for decorations, which many African tribes do as part of their culture. The rhino is included in the ‘WWFs 9 to Watch’ list. This is mostly because of the lack in law enforcement, which resulted in the rhino’s population to decrease dramatically.

Africa:

The Black rhino is foudn in central, eastern and southern Africa. Since the 19th century, poachers have hunted the species as a trophy and for their horns, reduceing the population to about 3,600. The black rhino was almost driven to extinction by the 1990s.In the Middle East, rhino horns were looked for to carve dagger handles, while in the Far East they were used as a cure for fever. Since 1992, the trade has been more controlled and international knoweledge has helped to decrease teh numbers of poching acts.

Sumatra:

The Sumatran rhino is one of the worlds rarest mammals. It sed to live throughout southeast Asia but it is now only found in a few isolated areas, where it is threatened by habitat loss and illegal hunting for its horns. Now, there are only 300 Sumatran rhinos left in the world. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, 50 per cent of the remaing Sumatran rhinos were killed for their horns (used for Chinese medicine). Now efforts are made to help protect this ancient mammal from extinction.

In April 2009, police discovered 10 single-barrelled muzzle guns (SBMGs) with several rounds of poison-tipped bullets from a farmhouse on the boundary of Nameri national Park in the Sonitpur area.

Naba Bora, the leader of the Jamugurihat police, said, “Just one of these bullets could kill an elephant or rhino with one shot, regardless of where it hit”. Normally, poachers must hit an animal through the head or in the chest, where its vital organs are, Even if the shot doesn’t kill the animal, the wound from the bullet becomes infected and still causes the death of that animal. When a bullet is combined with poison, just one bullet could kill the animal by poisoning within 10 minutes.

The use of poison bullets isn’t very common to the police and that makes it hard to track the poachers, although poison has been used in hunting since ancient times, with poison darts being used to hunt small prey. If a poacher kills an elephant or rhino with the poison bullets, they will then hack off the horn or tusks, leaving the poisoned carcass behind. Other animals would then feed on the carcass, which means they, too, would become poisoned and die.

“It is a well-knit gang of poachers with international connections,” said Naba Bora. He also said that most of the gang members are from Nagaland and Manipur.

“The gang has local connections and charts out its plans at these small farmhouses on the fringes of the park,” he said.

 If all things stay true, and the gang is made of international people, it could be nearly impossible to track the weapons back to the poachers.

Earlier this year, the Jakarta Post published an article about the government’s choices about poaching.
‘ “An environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) has on Thursday called for the government to intervene in the prevention of further wildlife poaching in Sumatra following the death of two female elephants at an elephant conservation centre in Bengkulu last week. Elephant and tiger poaching is increasing and the death of the female elephants wasn’t the first. At least seven others were killed at the Conservation Park between 2004 and 2007” the representative of wildlife protection NGO ProFauna Radius Nursudi said.

He added that the perpetrators were never caught nor processed.

Apart form the endangered elephants; the second most poached wildlife animal is the Sumatran tiger.

A survey conducted by ProFauna in March this year revealed 12 tiger snares were found around a conservation park in Bengkulu.
One of these snares successfully trapped a Bornean leopard in 2007.
The Authorities were informed of the perpetrator but no legal recourse was taken.
“the police need to fully enforce the law on wildlife crime. Without law enforcement elephant and tiger poaching in Bengkulu will persist.” Nursidi argued.
Under the law, poaching and trading protected species is against the law and offenders are liable to a maximum of five years in jail and a Rp 100 millions (10,000 USD) fine.’
Something in the article that really caught my attention was the 12 tiger snares found on the reservation in Bengkulu. If the animals aren’t safe even in their protected areas, then what chance do they have of surviving outside the conservations?

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