Poaching which is an illegal act of hunting wild animals to take off some vital parts for commercial purposes or for subsistence has become a call for concern lately. Initially, subsistence farmers did poaching as a diet substitute but today, it is being done for commercial purposes; mainly for their body parts or alive as pets in the case of monkeys. Animals that are endangered by poaching include; rhinoceroses, pangolins, crocodiles, bears, sea horses, elephants, sea turtles, wild tigers, rosewood and porcupines just to mention a few. Their parts such as ivory (elephants), scales (pangolins), bile (bears), skins/fur/bones/teeth (tigers & crocodiles) and horns (rhinoceroses) are harvested and used to produce jewelry, carvings, ointments and most importantly medicines. Poaching is more of a Southern Africa phenomenon, although some central Africa countries such as Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, DR Congo and Gabon are particularly noted for trafficking rosewood and other flora. Medicines made from these products are believed to prevent cancer, enhance virility, provide strength and treat skin infections.
POACHING STATISTICS IN AFRICA
Poaching started remotely in Africa in the 1980s and by 1990; the first reports of animal trafficking were reported in South Africa both locally and globally. Since then the number and activities have been steady rising with the latest reports from different organizations and institutions showing that about 1300 to 1600 of each species is poached yearly.
Global statistics and findings have shown that Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa are the main perpetrators while China, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines are the main market; a rhino horn can cost up to $65,000. Recent statistics show that China and Vietnam are the leading promoters of poaching by illegal groups that promulgate contraband business.
Law enforcement agencies, WWF, The International Ranger Foundation, Save The Rhino Organization, The Thin Green Line Foundation and Trade Record Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC) and other wildlife organizations in Africa have revealed that some Africans also use animal tusks, bones, teeth, skin and horns to make beads, bracelet, decoration, carvings, clothing and medicine, although they are more involved at the level of harvesting.
CONSEQUENCES OF POACHING
If care is not taken, our planet will be robbed of many fauna and flora species due to the high level of poaching for the last decade due to the risk of extinction.
Since 2009, about 800 rangers have been gunned down by poachers with the highest number reported in DR Congo and South Africa.
Poached animals have been reported to spread diseases such as SARS, bird Flu and exogenous Ebola.
Poaching has promoted criminality as many gangs now rob and kill just to acquire the poached items or to steal money earned from this activity.
Ben Simasiku a Zambian alongside Katowa Mary Mwendalubu, Yvonne Minganja and Sandra Samasiku were arrested in Zambia after being caught illegally possessing about 20 freshly harvested raw ivories weighing close to 115 kg.
The popular 69-year-old Chinese woman Yang Feng Glan was convicted in Tanzania and investigations showed that she had trafficked over 800 elephant tusks worth over $5 million within the last 20 years and asked to pay a fine of $1.8 billion.
Boniface Matthew Mariango 45 years old, nicknamed by the law enforcement agencies as “Shentani” meaning devil in Swahili was also arrested in Tanzania and charged with the illegal killing of elephants in many Southern Africa countries.
The Kenyan ivory trafficker Feisal Mohamed Ali was also convicted for 20 years.
LIMITATIONS TO ANTI-POACHING
Despite the efforts made by some governments and organizations to prevent poaching, preserve and conserve wildlife, the following difficulties are encountered;
Many African governments do not see it important and so do not reinforce wildlife laws nor allocate resources nor put in place the proper infrastructure to train personnel to work in this sector.
Laws and treaties have been enacted and signed by different countries and organizations to prevent poaching and animal trafficking in general but are not reinforced.
Many stakeholders of wildlife conservation, preservation and protection are corrupt, receive bribe and allow poachers and traffickers to do their worst.
Many stakeholders and rangers who foster the idea of anti-poaching do not have the required support, collaboration, infrastructure, resources, knowledge, and skills; some even lose their lives in the process.
Governments and organizations need to train more rangers and provide them the right equipment’s. More global agreements need to be signed and laws reinforced by every government. Clearly mated jail sentences and fines should be pronounced and declared globally. Governments should sensitize people against poaching and involve NGOs in the process.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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