Poaching is the illegal hunting and killing of protected or endangered animals. More often than not for profit via the sale of the animals body parts like their fur or tusks. My goal is to raise awareness on the issues of poaching and the dramatic repercussions it can have. This campaign is important because poaching rates are on the rise with the increasing  value of rare animal products on the black market.

As the rarity of certain animals increases their worth on the black market
increases exponentially, where they can be taken and sold as pets or killed and sold as trophy pieces. As their worth increases, poachers become more eager to find these endangered species. But with the easy money to be made by poachers it is a circle of death and destruction that will inevitably send many species extinct. With the western black rhino going extinct in 2011. Some of the most profitable animal products are tusks and horns from rhinos and elephants, claws from tigers and scales from pangolins. In the decade prior to 2014 it is believed that well over a million pangolins were poached for the scales the cover their body. And at almost $1000 a kilogram that is a lot of money for poachers to make off of an animal that has no was to defend itself from a human. As of 2014 rhino horns are worth over $60,000 a kg and elephant ivory at around $2,000. Earlier this year 1,200 elephant tusks were seized in Tanzania, meaning that in less than a year at least 600 elephants were killed for their tusks just in Tanzania alone. 

With the value of an animals products often being determined by their rarity, the most endangered species fetch the highest prices on the black market. With this high price tag, poachers with do almost anything to find and kill these animals. This thirst for finding the rarest animals for the biggest pay out was one of the contributing factors to the extinction of the western black rhino back in 2011. Now the black rhino is in the sights of poachers as their horns are worth well over $60,000 a kilo. Wild black rhino populations reportedly got as low as 2000 but are slowly growing back. The black rhino is still classed as a critically endangered species, and even with conservation efforts poaching is still a huge issue for the species that was virtually on the verge of extinction just a few years ago. Knowing this there is a clear correlation between poaching and extinction events within animal species.

When animals go extinct it can effect the whole ecosystem. As Dr. Anthony Giordano said it is fair to say that since the origin of life on earth, more species have gone extinct than are currently alive now. And extinction, if un-assisted by humans is a completely natural part of natural selection and evolution. But with human interference we are speeding up the extinctions of animals that would otherwise thrive for the soul purpose of making money. If predators like tigers, which would otherwise thrive in their natural environments without human hunting, were to go extinct; which is quite possible as there population is dwindling the population of their pray would grow exponentially to a point that the ecosystem could not possible sustain resulting in even more extinction and destructing of natural flora and fauna. Things like this are already happening, in parts of Africa where lion and leopard populations are at an all time low. Olive baboons, are often hunted by lions and leopards but with their low populations the baboon population has boomed and their behaviours patterns to change and the baboons are increasing contact with nearby humans. The increased contact which had not been seen prior has led to a rise in intestinal parasites in both humans and the baboons. Every action has a repercussions, whether that be good or bad, but the repercussions of hunting and poaching are never positive and can often set off a domino of other extinctions of both animals and plant life.

If we are to do anything to
change the course of poaching,  current penalties need to change, in most African countries the most authorities can do to poachers is take the poaching contraband and give the poachers a 5 year prison sentence. And with the money to be made from poaching, 5 years isn’t a very big deterrent to aspiring poachers looking for an easy pay out. Things that could be changed would be longer prison terms upwards of 20 years, introduce fines and put the money payed from fines back into conservation efforts and increase efforts to catch poachers.

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