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Illegal hunting is popularly known as poaching, which is one of the most heinous crimes against natural wild animals. Poaching is a global crime and is punishable according to first act. But it is growing like a malicious virus.
It is high time now that we should be completely aware about the viscous effect of poaching. Mass awareness and active contribution is the only way to stop the crime. But unless we gather knowledge about the illegal crime, prevention of this corruption may not be possible.
Money is the only impetus behind this antihuman activity. Hunter or poachers kill animals that are profitable for extracting their skin, teeth, sometimes the entire skeleton, etc. Hunting animals for food is not that illegal but killing animal or captivating wild animals for their commercial benefits.
Poaching has been defined as the illegal hunting or capturing of wild animals, usually associated with land use rights. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, poaching was performed by needy farmhands for survival purposes and for arranging a supplement for meager diets.
Laws against the illegal hunting
Poaching is illegal hunting, killing, capturing or taking of wildlife neglecting local or international wildlife conservation laws. For example, harvests made without obeying with the guidelines for legal harvest result in the illegal taking of wildlife and come under poaching.
Activities that are somehow legal may result in poaching if violating the wildlife laws does them. For example, harvests made without obeying with the principles for legal harvest results in the illegal killing of wildlife and are considered as poaching.
Only wildlife can be poached. Stealing or killing domestic animals is called theft. However, poaching is a punishable offence.
Following are examples of some activities that amount to poaching:
Capturing wild animals or plants without a license or government permit.
Hunting and trapping animal with prohibited weapon or trap.
Taking animals from an authorized wildlife sanctuary such as a national park, game reserve, or zoo. Taking animal/ plant from controlled land is illegal too.
Like animal poaching, nowadays plants poaching is growing at malicious rate around the world.
Why the crime is still prevalent?
In the U.S.A, poaching was not considered a serious problem before the twentieth century because there was vast space of undeveloped land with plentiful sources of fish and game. But the rapid growth of town and cities as well as the increased cultivation of land lead to reduced wildlife habitats in the twentieth century.
These changing circumstances necessitated restrictions on hunting and fishing. Consequently, state and federal wildlife laws were framed to preserve wildlife.
In the U.S.A, animal poaching is usually done for commercial profit. Poaching laws are enforced by game wardens. They patrol state and national parks and respond to violations on private property.
Plant poaching is also on the rise, and is done mainly for commercial gains. Removal of ginseng growing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a good example of plant poaching.
In the United States, state law primarily performs regulation of hunting; additional regulations are imposed through Federal environmental law regarding migratory birds (such as ducks and geese) and endangered species.
What animals are mainly the targets of illegal hunting?
Perhaps the list of target animals for illegal hunting is endless and it largely differs from one place to another. For example, In Africa, tusker elephants, double horned rhino, and lions are the prime targets of illegal hunting.
The wild animal puppies are taken in captivity for selling them in different places. In India and Bangladesh the Royal Bengal Tigers are one of the most known poaching targets, which have made the number of tigers abruptly decreased recently.
The poaching crime is quite high in Africa. African elephants, ions, greater kudus, elands, impala, duiker, reedbuck, bushbuck, bush pig, common warthog, chacma baboon and greater cane rat are illegally hunted for the bush meat trade in Mozambique.
However, there is a global list of almost extinct and to be extinct animals, who are still considered as the premium targets of illegal hunting, subject to their availability worldwide in different habitats. Check the list of almost extinct animals here due to mass illegal hunting:
Leatherback Sea Turtles. (Flickr/qnr)
Tigers. (Flickr/John Picken)
Javan Rhinoceros. (Flickr/indywriter)
Northern Sportive Lemurs.
Mediterranean Monk seals.
Apart from these extinct animals, there are many other animals and birds which become the prey of hunters just for fun and for the flesh for consumption: one such animal is deer. It is estimated that in the USA only, every year 1.23 million deer gets killed in car accident and by illegal poaching.
Captivation and smuggling of animals and birds are the part of this hunting and illegal trade of poaching. It has been estimated that Reptiles, such as bearded dragons and geckos, and birds, such as scarlet macaws and certain falcons, make up the largest share of wild animals captured and sold.
Exotic mammals including three-toed sloths, sugar gliders, prairie dogs, hedgehogs, and other animals are kept as pets. In fact there is practically no limit of captivating animal however, small animals and birds are the commonest prey; however, big cats are not spared even.
According to the statistics, “Birds are the most common illegal imports; the US State Department has assessed that around two million to five million wild birds, ranging from hummingbirds to colorful parrots as well as wild and fierce eagles, are traded illegally worldwide every year internationally.”
Tigers are hot in demand in wild-pet category. An estimated, presently, around 5,000 to 7,000 tigers (2013) are kept in the United States in private zoos. The range of numbers is due to the lack of required reporting in some areas.
For comparison, less than 500 of these big cats are in U.S. zoos qualified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and 3,200 live in the wild. Tropical fish, and other animals are also the part of the illicit pet trade.
Presently, The U.S.A has adapted very strong laws for combating poaching. Accordingly, Ivory has become the hardest thing to import in the USA. You cannot buy pearls out of state and bring them in.
In USA most of the countries, having animal laws, use the specific template of CITES. If anyone has outside animal parts in his/her possession, he /she is liable to punishment.
Alarming Facts about the Illegal Wildlife Trade
Between 2007 and 2012 rhino poaching in South Africa has increased by 5,000%.
Approximately 28,000 freshwater turtles are traded each day.
Bluefin tuna is being caught indiscriminately due to increased demand for cooking sushi.
There are fewer than 3,200 tigers left in the wild.
Pangolins are one of the most traded mammals in Asia and Africa.
How poaching is impacting the environment negatively
Wildlife poaching has negative side effects that affect local communities, wildlife populations, and the environment. It is a crime fueled by a lucrative global black market trade of animal parts. The animal parts are sold as novelty items and are sold for their “medicinal” properties.
Environmental groups, animal rights groups, government agencies, and social conscious people around the globe are raising their voice for an immediate end to wildlife poaching. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), and The International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) are leading international efforts to end wildlife poaching.
Effects on Local Communities
The United States is the second to China in its desire for illegal wildlife parts. According to an On Earth article, poachers have killed over 30,000 elephants last year. Experts anticipate that elephants will surely go extinct within the next decade if the elephant killing continues at this rate.
The extinction of a species can have a negative economic effect on a local community’s tourism industry. A community that trusts on its wildlife to attract tourists is at great risk for economic hardship if the incidence of poaching is high.
Furthermore, a tourist embargo due to local poaching is a real threat. An embargo could have a harmful effect on a community’s economy since restaurants, hotels, rentals, and other attractions may suffer a lot.
Effects on Animals
Extinction is the greatest threat to animals, which are the fatalities of wildlife hunting. In 2011, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC) declared the Western Black Rhinoceros extinct. These endangered Black Rhinos are killed due to the confidence in the healing properties of its horn.
The Sumatran Tiger is a critically threatened species right now. It is poached and sold for its parts (skin, teeth, bones, and claws) which sell for up to $7,000. Poaching is more profitable than other jobs that are available in the region; a harsh reality faced by many individuals and communities.
What kinds of poachers are there?
Wildlife poachers are the people on the ground illegally hunting, fishing, and capturing. Not all-illegal hunting is the same and while some groups struggle to survive others are seeking out ways to exploit the environment and profit from it as quickly as possible even at the expense of their community and nation.
Many factors contribute to the different kinds of individuals who illegally hunt animals, unlawfully fish, or harvest plants or trees that are not their own. These poachers are mostly highly trained of the use of modern weapons and the nature and lifestyle of the wild animals and their habitats.
What are weapons used for poaching?
Poachers use mostly the modern weapons. This is done mostly for making their aims accurate and lethal. According to statistics, many commercial poachers use army-grade modern weapons.
In some part of the globe, arrows and spears are also used to illegal poaching. The technique used to kill the animal doesn’t define poaching; but ignoring wildlife laws and overlooking and creating damage for the health and natural balance of wild inhabitants are the prime outcome of the poaching.
There are no fixed placed for illegal hunting. In fact, it can be said that peaching occurs in every natural habitats, and poachers are known for their global characters.
Few illegal hunting facts:
Illegal hunting is a worldwide spread crime and is not a simple anti-social activity. It has lots of nuances and layered complexities. Check the facts narrated here, it will let you guess the deep penetration of this crime worldwide.
The difference between poaching and hunting is the support of law. In other words, poaching is a kind of illegal hunting from the authority.
Big-horned sheep antlers may cost $20,000 in the black market.
Wildlife officials have noticed a recent increase in robbing infant gorillas. Kid gorillas are sold for up to $40,000 each in per market.
Since 1960, the black rhino population has reduced by 97.6% due to the impact of illegal hunting.
Conservationists have estimated that between 2012 and 2014, total 38,000 elephants were poached yearly for stealing their ivory.
Poached sharks, manta rays, and sea cucumbers are huge-in-demand mostly by Asian consumers. Sharks are indiscriminately killed for preparing shark fin soup, which is a Chinese cuisine specialty.
Tigers are hunted illegally and that has caused their cruel extinction. Their claws, teeth, and whiskers are alleged to deliver good luck and holy protective powers. Their skins and bones are appreciated as status symbols.
Systematized crime syndicates who use high-powered technology and arms to hunt and kill animals without legal harassment patronize most poaching.
Globalization and economic growth is liable for creating established poaching trading routes.
In the 1900s, there were about 12 million elephants in Africa. Today, there are about 400,000.
Poachers often poison elephants with laced pumpkins or juicy watermelons. They may also poison these foodstuffs with arrows or nails on a board.
The rhino horn is globally poached because it is believed that it can cure hangovers, impotence, fever, and cancer. It has been proven to cure none of these.
Almost 100,000 African elephants were illegally poached from 2010 to 2012. The huge loss can deplete genetic diversity to the point where it is impossible to maintain a healthy and robust population.
The price of tiger bone has skyrocketed. It is estimated to be $140–$370 per kilogram, depending on the size of the bone.
The most expensive items in the world are gold, platinum, and rhino horn. Rhino horn is sold for nearly $30,000 a pound. Gold, by comparison, is worth about $22,000 a pound.
One hundred years ago, there were 100,000 tigers in the wild. Now, there are as few as 3,200. Conservations estimate that tigers will be extinct in just a few decades if illegal hunting continues.
What are governments doing to combat environmental crimes?
Law implementation and non-governmental organizations around the world are recurrently planning and leading operations to catch illegal poaching criminal groups and absconders involved in ecological crimes.
These crimes may occur at local, regional, national, or transnational levels and include the illegal trade in live animals; these anti-social activities often damage ecological balance in animal kingdom and may cause severe disturbance due to sheer cruelty for the victims.
Requirement of Poaching Detection Systems
Manual effort is mandatory but in most of the cases cannot work adequately for eliminating/reducing the network or activities related to illegal hunting. Here the organized Poaching Detection Systemswork well.
Detection technologies often gather data from diverse types of sensors, which are analyzed to recognize poaching incidents on time. In this section, the requirements of an efficient Anti-Poaching System (APS) are outlined.
Many sites in wildlife areas are very distant and do not have obtainable infrastructure such as road, power lines, and network. Therefore, an APS can be inaccessible from power lines and in these case will solely rely on battery power and natural energy utilizing technologies.
Any answer that is organized in areas without substructure should be capable to operate for long timeline to minimize invested costs and effort. The goal of an APS can be like implanting devices on animals or in the ground, unattended, for next months or may be for years.
Each device should be capable of managing its local power supply in order to optimize the total system in the long run, by organizing it on the field with a solar panel or natural energy-harvesting machine to upsurge the energy efficiency by considering a time-efficient and durable hardware solution.
Game park managers are often found sensitive about conspicuous technologies such as sensor poles or solar panels. These types of technologies are supposed to be unusual. An APS usually covers a large area where issues like as weather conditions and wildlife interaction may disable components of the APS.
Hence, an APS should be easy to maintain so that an unceasing protection of wildlife can be surefire. Furthermore, placement of an APS should be disguised from poachers. Otherwise poachers will surely damage the device to disable the APS.
The system should not have any attracting visual features, for instance, blinking LEDs, colorful mounting devices, as well as other obviously visible factors.
An APS should tolerate numerous technical and ecological deployment factors. Problems in a detection system may occur at any point between the poaching event, detection, and the robotic surveillance course.
For instance, the malfunctioning of an individual component should not lead to the whole failure of the general system. Key challenges in wildlife areas may include,( but are not limited to), severe tropical storms, lightning strikes, flooding (near rivers), over heat, and accidental field fires.
Sometimes animals like Elephants and baboons, for instance, can be very damaging. Hence, an APS should be tough enough to at least common mechanical faults among the dispersed system components, and establish strong pliability so that information remain unadulterated.
The areas that are susceptible to poaching activities are mostly large. The APS should be scalable as much as possible. Technically, the APS should be able to house a growing number of extra devices linking the system.
Scalability can be realized by means of integrating hardware and software techniques. When familiarizing new hardware mechanisms scales an APS up, the system should flawlessly receive new components with no or little manual alteration.
Scalability means also the option of extending an APS in order to monitor large areas, while staying within the limits of other necessities.
Offering full coverage of the threatened field is a very significant feature for a successful surveillance method. In order to decrease coverage overlap, optimization procedures should be applied to select the best location of the system devices.
The system deployment should be positioned competently within a quantified region to cover security blind spots and stop intruders from misusing these spots.
What we can do to help stop the cruelty of illegal poaching
It’s not possible to stop illegal hunting all by federal initiatives only. We need to contribute our efforts too for eradication of this crime. With our limited ability we can try maintaining these following steps at least:
Never purchase exotic animals from pet shop or dealers. Instead, choose to adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group.
Support legislation that makes it illegal to own exotic animals in your local community.
Avoid buying wild animal products when traveling — including meat, skins and traditional medicines — and encourage others to ask questions and get the facts before making purchases.
Sign petitions that help to push governments to protect threatened animal populations and enforce better laws and stricter deterrents.
Choose only legally available pets.
Consume only sustainable seafood.
Report immediately to the authority if you get to know about anything that is related to illegal hunting.
Do not use animal skin made products how much exotic it looks. If you do that, you are indulging this cruel process.
Illegal hunting or poaching is not only dangerous for the victim animals; it is also treacherous for the whole world. It is a sheer degradation of humanity.
From historic ages, humans and animals lead their lives peacefully with each other here. The greed, lust, and superstitions are the modern impetuses that have made humans greedy and cunning resulting in making the innocent animals their prey.
This social crime of illegal hunting can be stopped only when there will not be any market for these illegal supplies. The abolition of animal trade will help us to restore the natural eco system, with which once the planet was enriched. That is the secret of living peacefully here.