Poaching simply is the act of killing or catching a game animal or fish contrary to the law (Sjostedt & Sundstrom, 2015). In Africa, today poaching is a common phenomenon. Studies show that poaching in Africa is an outcome of the historical legacy of colonialism. Previously Africans were hunters by nature. During the colonial period, these rights were withdrawn to protect wildlife for European colonials (Smith, 2014). Due to this Africans resisted the order and continue to do so even today.
There are different types of poachers in Africa. One category is the subsistence poachers. This kind of poachers target only small game and their poaching is done mainly for food. Such poacher use ow technology like traps hence their poaching has a very small impact on the wildlife populations. They mostly operate alone or in pairs. They have the ability to live off the land. In most cases, this kind of poachers is always driven by poverty (Warchol & Harrington, 2016). Another type of poachers are the commercial poachers. These poachers are the ones that operate in certain organized groups, and they mostly target commercially valuable species such as the elephants and rhinos, and in most cases, they are usually money driven. They sell the meat to butchers or Backstreet vendors. These kinds of poachers mostly use advanced technologies in their operations, and this includes firearms, GPS, and mobiles. Their activities have devastating effects on their wildlife populations. They also work seasonally at specific times of the months and operate at night. The last category is called syndicate poaching (Wilfred & MacColl, 2014). This is a sophisticated well networked and internationally orchestrated. They operate during the day and night. They have extensive skills, knowledge, and motivation. They are professionals frequently with a military or paramilitary background and training.
Recent studies have shown that poaching in Africa is linked to poverty in the conflict zones. In these areas, poaching is carried out to raise funds that will be used in financing the local wars. Studies show that the number of elephants killed annually since 2007 has doubled over to 30,000. The rates created and alarm in 2010 when the rate of killing surpassed that of elephant breeding. Rhino poaching rates have also drastically increased over the years (Raine, Gauci, & Barbara, 2016). A good example is in South Africa, in 200-2007 rhino poaching was rare with not more than 10 per year. By the year 2008, the rates started rising. In 2013, 1,004 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. Studies show that poaching reduced the populations of African elephants from 1.3 million to fewer than 600,000. In 2011 alone over 23metric tons of illegal ivory were seized around the world. This represents a loss of around 2500 elephants. Studies show that nearly 100 elephants are killed daily. Reports from the convention on international endangered species show that 80% ivory occurs in East Africa (Rowe, 2016).
Poaching of endangered species pauses very high risks to the African continent and global states at large. The environmental, economic and social consequences of wildlife crime are profound. The un secretary general Ban ki moon says that poaching threatens the peace and security of most African countries as the proceeding from poaching are used in organized crimes. The enormous effects of elephant poaching are well known: it is brutal, shameful and unnecessary. Poaching is the biggest contributor to the extinction of crucial species. The most endangered species are the rhino, tiger, and elephant. The extinction of these species pauses an economic risk to the affected countries (Wilfred & MacColl, 2014). This is due to the reduced tourism attraction and more so to the communities that rely on tourism attraction for a livelihood. Poaching also in a great way is dangerous to the environment. Poaching of animals causes an imbalance in the ecosystem, and this results to an unhealthy ecosystem. The survival of most species depends on the ecosystem (Rowe, 2016).
Poverty is among the main factors causing poaching in Africa today. Studies show that the decision of one to poach is not an individual one, but it is driven by the economic, societal and political context in which people find themselves. They depend on societal views and how they are expected to behave. Poverty has been found to be one major contributor to poaching. Some poachers are usually out to seek for food (hunting and gathering). They are mainly low-income earners, and hunting is part of their daily life.
Another cause is corruption among the government officials. The love of money has greatly increased the rate of poaching cases among the suspects (Raine, Gauci, & Barbara, 2016). They still receive bribes especially on countrys entry and exit points for the export of poached animal products. The ease of export of the products encourages more poaching (Rowe, 2016). The corrupt officials are also always ready to let go off those caught poaching after they receive heavy bribes from them.
The rising prices of poached animal products are another key contributor to poaching (Shea, 2014). Ideally, one kilogram of rhino horn is sold for approximately up to $65,00 while one kilogram of elephant ivory is sold for $2100. This high price attracts people (Ogada, Botha & Shaw, 2016). The cultural, social and economic factors to some extent contribute to high poaching rates in Africa. Some people believe that the horns have medicinal value and hence encouraging poaching (Piel et al., 2015). Others use the horns for religious ceremonies and are always willing to buy them at very high prices. This is especially in Asian where some of the horns are exported to.
The strategies to prevent poaching mostly depend on individual governments and organizations (Lee & Du Preez, 2016). The organizations can conduct antipoaching and wildlife crime training in several countries in Africa. Support has been offered by wildlife scouts and rangers and another antipoaching patrol in several countries in Africa program have been started that have aims of developing a counter wildlife crime intelligence fusion centers engaged with communities living near wildlife services security operations (Main, 2015). This are some of the operations carried out by the international fund for animal welfare. Another method of prevention is through thorough training of the wildlife rangers. Improved skills and knowledge which are vital in fighting the poaching menace (Naidoo et al., 2016). Another one which is quite tricky and also expensive to the Africa continents is the fencing of the animal parks and game reserves with electronic fences that will prevent trespass of poachers (Dixon, 2015). This will also prevent game animals from attacking the local populations hence solve the human animal conflict. Also, liberalizing game as property of state and shifting possession and usage to the civil society and private sector can help. Successful conservation of wildlife is also through active involvement of the local society (Crookes, 2016). They should be key in decision making and also receive material advantages. Studies have shown that the best anti-poaching units consist of ex-military soldiers of former poachers (Cavanagh, Vedeld & Traedal, 2015). Even though this is true, anti poaching unit should consist of individuals passionate about wildlife and eager to conserve it.
In response to poaching, several organizations have ventured into protecting wildlife poaching in Africa. Among the many organizations include the following: The International Antipoaching Foundation (IAPF). Missions to protect and preserve wildlife in volatile regions by educating, researching, leading and raising awareness. The IAPF has started many institutions to protect endangered species from poaching. Another organization is the World Wildlife Fund for Nature(WWF). This is an intercontinental non-governmental establishment that works around to protect endangered species. The Convention Of International Trade In Endangered Species Of World Fauna And Flora (CITES). This is also an international organization that works to protect endangered species by ensuring that the trade of specimen of wild animals and plants do not harm the natural populations of the specimen in the wild. We also have The International Union for Conservation of Nature. Founded in 1948, its initiatives are updated every four years as part of global partners and approved by member organizations every four years (Brennan & Kalsi, 2015). There Is Also The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). This is a leading inter-global environmental agency which promotes the lucid execution of the ecological dimensions of sustainable development with the United Nations system which functions as an influential advocate for the global environments (Nowak, 2016).
In conclusion from the outline above it is clearly evident that poaching is an issue of global concern in Africa. There is need for global patterning in curbing the consequences of poaching. Immediate action should be done with the respective stakeholders to curb this cases.
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Dixon, R. (2015). South Africa lifts rhino trade ban; debate ramps up over whether the domestic trading of horn will curb illegal poaching or endanger species. Los Angeles Times. p. 3.
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