What Exactly is Animal Poaching?

Part 2 in the Nikela Series on Animal Poaching, and what its doing to endangered species, rhino, leopards, and primates in South Africa.

What animal poaching is and why we should care.

To address this topic let’s take a look at what some serious online research produced.

The Encyclopedia of Earth defines Poaching like this:

Poaching is the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals. This can occur in a variety of ways. Poaching can refer to the failure to comply with regulations for legal harvest, resulting in the illegal taking of wildlife that would otherwise be allowable. Examples include: Taking without a license or permit, use of a prohibited weapon or trap, taking outside of the designated time of day or year, and taking of a prohibited sex or life stage. Poaching can also refer to the taking of animals from a wildlife sanctuary, such as a national park, game reserve, or zoo.

WikiAnswers puts animal poaching in historical perspective:

However, poaching defined as an illegal act of hunting a specified animal, goes back to before B.C. to the times of the ancient empires. However, modern poaching goes back to the late middle ages, when kings were the only ones to hunt specified animals, or were the only ones allowed to hunt in certain areas. If a peasant were caught hunting from said areas or animals, he or she could be executed regardless if they did it out of necessity.

2007 Report for Animal Rights Africa:

The most comprehensive understanding of animal poaching and its impact on wildlife was found in Mike Cadman’s, “Consuming Wild Life: The Illegal Exploitation of Wild Animals In South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia”, March 2007 Report. The following are excerpts (some are abridged) from his work:

[View the entire report]

Poaching’ is defined as hunting wild animals for food and entrepreneurial exploitation, including the bushmeat trade for local and urban trade, trafficking (locally and cross-border) and trade in live animals and body parts.

The illegal killing of wild animals for meat, the so-called use and trade of ‘bushmeat’, is believed to be one of the greatest direct causes of the decline of wild animals in Africa. The increasing demand for bushmeat is also driving high rates of poaching. According to a CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna) resolution, poaching and illicit trade in bushmeat constitute the greatest threat to the survival of wildlife species.

A variety of methods are used to slaughter the animals. Firearms, indiscriminate wire snares and gin traps, hunting dogs and poison are all the tools of the poachers with the use of snares is the most common method of poaching in South Africa.

No matter the instrument each contributes to the agonizing death of tens of thousands of animals and birds annually. This barbaric treatment of wildlife not only causes untold suffering, pain and death, but literally poses an urgent threat to their survival as death is administered to individual animals, family groups and entire social networks.

South Africa and its neighbours have flourishing illegal wild animal markets and in South Africa, particularly, this is compounded by its geographical location and relatively sophisticated infrastructure. Indeed, poaching is taking place in an increasingly organised scale. Africa has seen the unprecedented annihilation of wild animals as a result of poaching and it is being fuelled by the profits that are made by commercial wildlife traffickers (often to satisfy consumer demand abroad) and uncontrolled commercial exploitation.

This is part of a global problem which according to Interpol is worth some US$12 billion a year. (Remember this report is from 2007, so it must be significantly higher now.) Throughout Africa, money is the driving force of this illegal trade and it is motivated by greed and aided by corruption, inadequate ranger staffing, public attitudes to wildlife, lack of public awareness, lack of data and lack of adequate law enforcement.

There are three general categories of consumptive use of wild animals: commercial trophy hunting, illegal poaching (including subsistence hunting), and commercial farming. Nearly all illegal poaching is commercial.

It is generally believed that wild animals are safe in Reserves. However, research has revealed that many of the reserves in southern Africa are heavily targeted by armed poachers. Of concern is that in some instances the park rangers themselves are poaching.

A recent research study undertaken by Professor Greg L. Warchol shows “numerous instances of rangers poaching for bushmeat, elephant ivory and rhino horn. In a Kruger National Park-sanctioned ‘culling’ effort, rangers authorised to kill 3120 impala illegally killed an additional 60 for sale to a local butcher shop. One Kruger ranger was arrested for shooting 20 white rhinos and another admitted to killing at least 46 over 12 years to pay his gambling debts.”

In summation:

Animal poaching is illegal, it is cruel, it puts the survival of multiple species at risk and it is increasing. So unless we all take a stand, and please don’t wait as long as I did… well, we all know what will happen!

Somehow I know you won’t let it happen. You’ll be careful about the purchases you make, the hunting you condone, plus, you’ll volunteer your time and donate to your favorite cause that helps protect wildlife. If you don’t already have one, consider helping us fund those who fight to protect the rhino.

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4 Responses to What Exactly is Animal Poaching?

  1. Colwyn November 11, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Hello at Nikela

    I am currently making a documentary about the leopard skin trade in an effort to have the issue addressed. Part of our mission is the production of a fake fur substitue. As part of our documentary we are looking for images of poached or snared leopards to illustrate the impact of poaching upon these animals. Would you have any available images for use in the film?

    If you would like to learn more about the film and watch our short pilot, go to http://www.toskinacat.org

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    • Wildlife Margrit November 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

      Colwyn thanks for reaching out and for the work you are doing to curb the killing of leopards for their fur. The photos we have are the property of the Ingwe Leopard project. I will email you with contact information.

  2. ashish February 20, 2017 at 3:16 am #

    we are the only one who is responsible for all the animal poaching


  1. What Exactly is Animal Poaching? | Nikela: Funding Wildlife Conservation & Education to Save Wildlife in Africa | Our Endangered Planet and it's Wildlife. - September 18, 2012

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