The poaching crisis
ONE WILDLIFE RANGER is killed EVERY THREE DAYS
FOUR ELEPHANTS are killed EVERY HOUR
THREE RHINOS are killed EVERY DAY
- Many species of animal are killed for their beautiful skins, their bones, their meat, and for the exotic wildlife trade.
- 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 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 slaughter.
- 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.
- Exorbitant prices are paid for animal parts - rhino horn sells for above $100,000 per kilo in Vietnam, and the retail market for elephant tusks in 2016 reached $552 million.
Poachers are no longer primarily impoverished local people killing to feed themselves and their families; organised crime syndicates and terrorist groups are the main perpetrators.
- 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 to the tune of $600,000 per month, 40% of its income
- Joseph Kony and his brutal Lord’s Resistance Army fund their rape and murder in the DRC by trading ivory and rhino horn
- 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
- Hunting and photographic 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