THE POACHING Crisis
ONE WILDLIFE RANGER IS KILLED
EVERY THREE DAYS
FOUR ELEPHANTS ARE KILLED
THREE RHINOS ARE KILLED
Africa’s endangered species and other wildlife are being decimated at a catastrophic rate. While the causes of this situation are multi-faceted, and the solutions multi-leveled, if the poaching of individual animals in the field is not stopped (or at least severely curbed), it will be too late to save them when and if an international political resolution is achieved.
Many species of animal are killed for their beautiful skins, their bones, their organs, their tusks, horns, claws or scales, for the lucrative exotic wildlife trade, for bush meat, or for use by witchdoctors
Lions are increasingly being targeted – their numbers have dropped by seventy- five percent in the last twenty years. Part of this decline comes from the demand for their bones, now that there are so few tigers left in the wild.
In some gruesome circumstances rhinos have their horns brutally removed while they are still alive, as it is believed the horn from a living animal has greater potency and thus commands a higher price. There are only an estimated three percent of the original numbers of these historic animals left.
Pangolins are now the world's most trafficked animals. They are sometimes captured and kept alive, their scales pulled off one by one by people who believe keratin – the same substance all fingernails are made of – has curative properties. These adorable and iconic animals die a slow, agonizing death over many months.
Poison is increasingly being used, put in watering holes know to be frequented by the poacher’s target species, with collateral damage being the deaths of hundreds of other animals drinking from the same source. Poison is also put on the carcasses of poached animals in order to kill the feeding vultures, whose presence might attract attention to the location of the murder.
If the slaughter continues at its current rate, animals that have been on our planet for nearly 15 million years will be extinct by 2020.
Poachers are no longer primarily impoverished local people killing to feed themselves and their families; organised crime syndicates and even terrorist groups are often the main perpetrators. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime calculates the annual value of the illegal wildlife trade to be over $10 billion (excluding marine wildlife and timber), putting it in the same league as drugs, arms and human trafficking.
Boko Haram in Nigeria finances its kidnapping gangs partially through sales of ivory
Al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, is profiting off Kenyan elephants killed by poachers
Joseph Kony and his brutal Lord’s Resistance Army fund their rape and murder in the DRC by trading ivory
Janjaweed members ride into Chad to kill elephants and bring their tusks back to Sudan
Similar organisiations exist in Uganda, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, amongst other countries
THE HUMAN Toll
An estimated 1,000 park Rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past 10 years, 75% of these by commercial poachers and armed militia groups
When a Ranger captures or kills a poacher, his family sometimes suffers revenge attacks, perpetrated by the poaching syndicate
When a Ranger is incapacitated or killed, his wife, children and extended family often become destitute
All forms of wildlife tourism suffer when animal populations are destroyed; local people therefore lose jobs, food and income because of poaching
Militias that rape, torture and murder innocent people do so with arms financed by poaching.