Sucking Dry the Biodiversity by Poaching

in Deep Dives2 months ago

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Mother and young rhinoceros killed for their horns. (wikimedia)

Animals are such a fascinating creatures, but there are some people who doesn’t value the majestic beauty of animals. Instead of taking care and preserving them for the next generation, some people tend to think more about themselves and abuse the beauty of our mother Earth. These people who hurt and use animals for their self-gain are called poacher. Animal poaching is when people kill an animal illegally. Poachers do this because of something that an animal possesses which is considered valuable to humans such as fur and ivory. Poachers murder or catch animals to market them locally or for the global wildlife trade. Wildlife trafficking is a major black market that has grown in tandem with growing wealth in Asia, which is a major user of wildlife, as well as the rise of e-commerce and social media websites. Birds, rodents, and primates are among the animals captured alive to be kept or sold as exotic pets.

Animals that have been slaughtered, on the other hand, have a commercial value as fruit, jewelry, décor, or traditional medicine. African elephants' ivory tusks, for example, are carved into trinkets and show pieces. Pangolin scales, which are small ants-eating creatures, are ground into powder and eaten for their supposed healing properties. In certain parts of Africa, the meat of monkeys, rodents, and other bush animals is considered a delicacy. Poaching of wild animals is rampant, with millions of animals from thousands of species slaughtered or taken from their natural habitats around the world. Elephants, rhinos, and other charismatic species, as well as smaller and less well-known creatures like lizards and monkeys, are all under threat from poaching. Wildlife smuggling has catastrophic consequences. In certain cases, it is the main cause of an animal's extinction threat. This is the case with the African elephant, which was slaughtered in large numbers for ivory between 2014 and 2017.

Poaching has had a devastating effect on rhinos, with over a thousand being killed each year for their horns. Poaching for the exotic pet trade has an effect on an animal's health as well as its wild population. Wild animals need space to fly, roam, and swing from branches because they consume specialized diets found in nature. Animals captured are crammed into crates, suitcases, or bags, and even if they survive the trip, they frequently struggle in their unfamiliar, unnatural conditions. And there are the horrific effects of poaching. Between 2009 and 2016, nearly 600 rangers tasked with protecting wildlife in Africa were killed in the line of duty by poachers. At least 170 rangers have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, one of the continent's most dangerous, over the last two decades.

Poaching has also been linked to armed paramilitary groups in Africa accused of trafficking ivory to finance their operations, and it often occurs in combination with other crimes such as corruption and money laundering. Animals that have been poached will spread diseases like Ebola and SARS. Poaching of wildlife has detrimental consequences for local communities, wildlife habitats, and the environment. It's a lucrative black market trade in animal parts that fuels the violence. Animal parts are sold as novelty products with the promise of "medicinal" properties. Wildlife poaching is being condemned by environmental groups, animal rights organizations, government officials, and even the Duke of Cambridge. The International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are leading international efforts to end wildlife poaching. Poachers kill for monetary gain. Bear gall bladders and big horned sheep antlers, for example, are highly valued for their purported medicinal properties. The wildlife service destroyed six tons of ivory seized at US borders in November at the National Wildlife Property Repository in Colorado.


Elephant Poachers in Kenya

Elephants are killed for their tusks because, while the tusks can be removed without killing the elephant, doing so while they are alive is too risky. The international community is reacting to the situation. Between 2010 and 2012, China strengthened its prosecutions of ivory traffickers, sending eight people to prison for bringing in over 3 tons of ivory. In terms of illegal wildlife parts, the United States is second only to China. Poachers killed over 30,000 elephants last year, according to an article in On Earth. Elephants will become extinct within the next decade, according to scientists, if the killing continues at this pace. A species' extinction may have a detrimental economic impact on a community's tourism industry. If poaching is prevalent, a community that relies on its wildlife to draw visitors faces extreme economic hardship.

Furthermore, a tourist boycott is a real possibility due to local poaching. A boycott could hurt a community's economy by hurting restaurants, hotels, rental properties, and other tourist attractions. Animals who are victims of wildlife poaching face the highest risk of extinction. The Western Black Rhinoceros was declared extinct by the International Union for conservation of Nature (IUNC) in 2011. Because of the belief in the medicinal powers of its horn, this subspecies of the critically endangered Black Rhino was poached. Currently, the Sumatran Tiger is a critically endangered species. It is poached and traded for parts such as skin, teeth, bones, and claws, which can fetch up to $5,000. Poaching is more profitable than other employment available in the region, a harsh reality that many individuals and communities must face.

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Ivory trade in East Africa during the 1880s and 1890s. (wikimedia)

Poaching has also been shown to be harmful to the ecosystem. Elk numbers in Yellowstone National Park soared as the North American Gray Wolf was on the verge of extinction due to trophy hunting and poaching. The elk almost ate the aspen tree to extinction because there was no natural predator. Elk populations are now balancing out, and the aspen tree is recovering, thanks to the park's rising population of gray wolves. Our habitats are fragile and need to be protected. Poaching can occur as a result of a community's economic difficulties, resulting in the endangerment (and, in the worst-case scenario, extinction) of various species. Various species of flora and fauna are needed in our environmental environments in order for them to remain safe and balanced. It is important for the survival of our own species.

According to a new report published in "Tropical Conservation Science," poachers in the Philippines are pursuing ten endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Fruit bats, macaques, fruit doves, hornbills, and the white-winged flying fox are among these species. Several of these species use seed dispersal to foster forest growth and regeneration. As a result, endangering their populations endangers whole ecosystems. According to the study's authors, current hunting activities are driven by economics rather than hunger. The Philippine officials confess to poaching endangered species due to a lack of compliance. Please sign the petition urging Philippine lawmakers to pass legislation to protect the country's endangered species. Some animals are killed right away for their parts. For example, turtles and tortoises are killed for their carapaces or shells, which are used as ornaments. Their meat is valued in East Asia, where it is considered a delicacy.


Why the strangest mammal is most targeted?

Pangolin populations have been decimated by traditional Chinese medicine, and is considered the most trafficked animal on the planet. While this has not been scientifically verified, pangolin scales are thought to have healing properties. Ten Philippine pangolins were rescued from three smugglers at a checkpoint in Tagaytay City in June after being taken from the forests of Palawan. Authorities say the carriers told them they were going to market the scaly mammals in Binondo, also known as Manila's Chinatown. Despite the rescue, seven pangolins died as a result of the smuggling attempt's tension and starvation. based on Emerson Sy of the Philippine Center for Terrestrial and Aquatic Research, the influx of Chinese and South Korean nationals into the country since 2010 has resulted in a rise in demand for pangolins, which can be ordered as a "off the menu" dish for P40,000 in some restaurants. Experts believe that reducing supply and demand would necessitate herculean efforts on the part of both the government and the general public.

Throughout the nation, there are 612 species of birds, more than 200 species of mammals, 111 species of amphibians, 270 species of reptiles, 330 species of freshwater fish, and nearly 21,000 species of insects. More than half of these species are only present in the Philippines, and that's just the ones that have been discovered. Many of these animals are listed as threatened or endangered, and some insect species have already become extinct. Even if they are not in danger of extinction, many animals are endangered by illegal hunting, farming, and other forms of animal cruelty. When it comes to animal neglect and cruelty, there is no difference between domestic pets and wild animals. It's comforting to know that there are organizations committed to assisting and preserving the country's rich and diverse animal kingdom in light of this information.


Illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines.

The Philippine Animal Welfare Association (PAWS) and the Animal Kingdom Foundation are two of the most well-known (AKF). PAWS is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and promotion of animal welfare. They were one of the several organizations who advocated for the Animal Rights Act (RA 8485) and its subsequent modifications. The organization's main purpose is to help people understand why all animals, starting with our beloved pet animals, deserve our dignity and protection. The PARC, or PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center, is a volunteer-run facility that holds dogs and cats rescued from abuse or neglect. They rehabilitate the animals in the hopes of finding new homes for them and providing them with a better life. The shelter also serves as a low-cost spay-neuter clinic and a resource center for animal welfare. The shelter opened in 2001, but PAWS has long been involved in humane education, programs, and low-cost neutering.

PAWS is also a vigorous critic of dogfights, horse fights, and the use of wild animals for entertainment. Out-of-shelter programs, such as the Doctor Dog Program and humane education sessions, are available through PAWS. PAWS' Humane Education Team has served hundreds of schoolchildren of all ages, with modules for pre-school, primary school, middle school, and university students, as well as seminars for university students. Their mission is to teach children about animals and animal cruelty. The Doctor Dog Service, on the other hand, is a PAWS-led animal-assisted therapy program for the Animal Asia Foundation, a Hong Kong-based organization committed to ending animal cruelty in Asia. Since 1998, volunteers and their dogs have visited over a hundred hospitals, schools, and institutions around the country. The Doctor Dog Program seeks to combat such cruelties as the illicit dog meat trade and dogfights by demonstrating how dogs have helped society in the past and intend to do so in the future.

Furthermore, the Animal Kingdom Foundation, a nonprofit animal rights organization, has a more positive approach to fighting animal cruelty and ending the tradition of unlawful dog slaughter. The AKF, in coordination with the Philippine National Police, conducts raid on illegal slaughterhouses and establishments that participate in dog trafficking and meat sales. They even stop dogs on their way to being killed by intercepting deliveries. The AKF has done all it can to apprehend dog-traders and file lawsuits against them, as well as rehabilitate and put the dogs they've saved in caring homes. The late Charles Leslie Wartenberg, the AKF's creator, had adopted a "askal" (street dog) saved during one of their operations, the dog now known as Sweet. Sweet died in 2018 after a long illness. Thousands of volunteers come together to build a more humane community through organizations like PAWS and AKF, which are integral parts of the country's animal rescue, security, and restoration efforts.


References

  1. How to Stop Poaching and Protect Endangered Species? Forget the ‘Kingpins’
  2. The Devastating Effects of Wildlife Poaching
  3. Poaching animals, explained
  4. Key Facts about Poaching
  5. PH losing P50B a year to illegal wildlife trade
  6. DENR warns public against keeping wild animal as pets
  7. Protecting animals from abuse
  8. Hunting in the Philippines: Okay for the Rich and Powerful, Illegal for the Poor and Lowly?
  9. How the case against an alleged poaching kingpin fell apart
  10. Biodiversity and poaching

All videos are in public domain attribution.

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