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Why is poaching still happening?

Illustration: Alex Gomez•The Sentry

People need to be educated about its effects

According to the Humane Society, “For every animal that is hunted legally, there is another one that is poached, adding up to tens of millions of animals being illegally killed every year.” Poaching has become a widespread crisis, devastating wildlife to the point where species are becoming endangered. Now is the time to not only reflect on the destruction that poachers have caused, but to make a change before species become extinct all together.

There is a thin line between poaching and hunting; that line is legality. Hunting is legal due to its regulation by the government and the permits it requires to kill certain animals; whereas poaching is the illegal killing of animals for the use of monetary gain—a trophy. 

Unlike hunting, poaching isn’t regulated, leaving poachers to run rampant. “Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 to 5 percent of poachers are caught,” according to WildlifeLandTrust.org. While every poacher who’s put behind bars is a step in the right direction, there are plenty of others who continue to slaughter innocent animals. 

Elephants, big cats, rhinos, and gorillas are among the many animals that are poached. The declining rate of these species, as well as the abuse they suffer, is overwhelming. According to AnimalMatters.org, “96 elephants are being killed in Africa per day for their ivory, and only five rhino species remain in existence.” These animals are targeted by poachers  for their tusks, resulting in poachers chopping off animal’s tusks while the animals are still alive.

Poachers generally target males over females due to male’s larger size. This creates a gender imbalance, making it harder for reproduction of a species in an environment. Additionally, baby animals are orphaned, leaving them with little chance of survival. Who gave poachers the power to intervene with natural selection? 

There’s no sugar-coating it—poaching is an insurmountable problem. However, there are solutions that are being thought of and implemented to diminish this tragedy. According to The Dodo, a source that focuses on animals, more security needs to be stationed along country borders and the ivory trade route set in Africa. This will either catch more poachers or stop them before they can act at all. 

Education is needed to not only teach people that poaching is immoral but to debunk the myths of the supposed healing powers of ivory. These myths include: ivory heals sores, cures a sore throat, and makes skin appear luminous. Lastly, and perhaps the solution that brings a bit of lightheartedness to this tragic situation, is to modify tusks with pink dye, rendering them useless to poachers while not harming the animal. 

If people don’t take a stand against poachers, it’s possible that several animal species will be driven to extinction. What a sad thing to think that future generations may not have a chance to admire the beautiful wildlife that graces the Earth, due to people’s selfish, personal gain.

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