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Elephant Poaching in Africa. What is Poaching?. Illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals

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What is Poaching?

  • Illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals
  • Taking a wild animal without a license or permit, use of a prohibited weapon or trap, taking outside of the designated time of day or year, and taking of a prohibited sex (male/female) or life stage.

Motivation for Poaching

  • Animal products, such as hide, ivory, horn, teeth and bone, are sold to dealers who make clothes, jewelry and other materials from them
  • Medicinal purposes (horns, bones)
  • Bushmeat : Illegal hunting of animals such as apes, gorillas, antelope or crocodiles for the purpose of food

Motivation for Poaching

  • Elephant ivory has been used by humans for millennia for various purposes
  • In the 19th and early part of the 20th century mass demand for items like billiard balls and piano keys led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of elephants

Motivation for Poaching

  • In the 1980s, Japan consumed about 40% of the global ivory trade
  • Another 40% was consumed by Europe and North America
  • China is a now a major market as traditional Chinese medicine uses ivory, and economic growth means more demand
more china problems
More China problems
  • The Chinese market demands unusual products from endangered animals (tiger parts, gall bladders from bears, rhino horns, etc.)
  • The Chinese government is either unwilling or unable to make any real attempt to control trade in these items

Methods of Poaching

  • Snare wire: cable wires of different lengths which are tied on trees to trap animals (usually around the neck)
  • Spears and dogs: traditional method involves chasing and spearing animals with the assistance of dogs
  • Pitfalls: pits are dug to trap large animals such as elephants, buffaloes and zebras.
the result
The Result
  • Between 1979 and 1989, the worldwide demand for ivory caused elephant populations to decline to dangerously low levels
  • During this time period, poaching fueled by ivory sales cut Africa's elephant population in half
  • In 1977, 1.3 million elephants lived in Africa; today the population is about 470,000
  • Some experts have predicted the extinction of wild African elephants by 2020
stopping poaching
Stopping Poaching
  • In 1989 the U.N.’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), effectively banned the ivory trade
  • At the time an average of 200 elephants were killed every day in Africa
  • Poaching almost ceased after the ban, but it is now on the increase once again, felling an average of over 100 elephants per day

Legal Ivory?

  • Over the last few years, CITES has allowed limited sales of ivory stockpiles, mostly from elephants that died of natural causes
  • Critics suggest that this has fed consumer demand and created opportunities for the black market to mask its operations

Legal Ivory?

  • While some countries petition to be allowed to sell their ivory stockpiles, others burn them
  • Kenya burned 5 tons of ivory this year ($16 million on the black market), though they have about 60 tons stockpiled

Economic Arguments

  • Ivory poaching is fuelled by poverty, political instability and civil unrest coupled with the easy availability of weapons
  • The world financial crisis has made things even worse - many African nations have had to cut back on their anti-poaching operations, giving illegal wildlife traders even more incentive to profit from their operations

Is Tourism the Solution?

  • One of the best ways to alleviate human-wildlife conflicts is to give people a reason to keep the local wildlife alive and healthy
  • If the elephants are a big tourist draw, then it is in the country’s best interest to protect them
  • If tourism employs locals, then the elephants put money directly into the local communities

Other Targets of Poaching

  • Rhinos for their horns, and tiger bones & claws
    • believed to be medicinal
  • Gorillas & Apes – for bushmeat (considered a delicacy)
  • Crocodiles - bushmeat