What is poaching and illegal wildlife trade?
Poaching can be defined as the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild animals. The purpose of poaching is to obtain parts of the animal for commercial gain, consumption, trophies, or merely the pleasure of killing a wild animal. The demand for wildlife has increased as the human population grows around the world. This high demand for wild species is what drives the crime of poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Rhino horns, elephant ivory and tiger parts are examples of animal products in high demand in many different countries. Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth 70 to 213 billion dollars every year. Many species are becoming extinct because nature cannot keep up with the rate of human consumption. People have always relied on wild animals for food, clothing, shelter and medicine but today people are taking more than the earth can supply. Poaching and illegal wildlife trade is a widespread issue throughout the world. India, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa are the countries that have the largest poaching problems.
Animals affected by poaching and illegal wildlife trade
The population of rhinos in Africa and Asia has dramatically decreased due to poaching. The northern white rhino species in East Africa has been reduced to 3 in the year 2016. The number of northern white rhinos were also dramatically cut down in the 1900s. In Asia there are less than 100 Sumatran rhino and fewer than 60 Javan rhino. Rhinos have faced extinction in Africa due to poaching in the 1800’s when the southern white rhino was nearly hunted to extinction.
Tigers are another wild species that are greatly affected by poaching, specifically in India and many Asian nations. The number of documented poached tigers in India has gone from 13 in the year 2011 to 50 in the year 2016. Only a few hundred Sumatran tigers are left in Indonesia due to the effects of poaching. The Bali and Javan tiger species used to inhabit Indonesia, but recently became extinct due to illegal hunting. China used to be home to the most tigers in the world, but because of poaching is now home to very few.
In Africa, elephants are dying due to poaching faster than they are able to reproduce. One of the largest targets for elephant poachers in Africa is Kruger National Park. Elephant killings in this national park went from 2 in the year 2014 to 46 killings in the year 2016. The poaching of elephants in Africa caused the population of 1.3 million elephants to fall to 600,000, which is a 50 percent decline.
Why do people commit these crimes?
Rhino horns, elephant ivory and tiger parts are all animal products that are in high demand for poachers. People in Africa and Asia obtain these animal products for commercial gain. Rhino horns are such a high demand in these countries because a rhino horn is worth more than 60,000 dollars per kilogram or 1,700 dollars per ounce. People buy rhino horns and other parts of rhino at such a high price because they believe these animal products have medicinal value. Elephant ivory is also at high demand and estimated to be worth 2,142 dollars per kilogram or 973 dollars per pound. Ivory is often sold and used to make ornaments and jewelry. Poaching groups in Africa kill elephants and trade the ivory for weapons and supplies. Tigers are illegally hunted in Asia to obtain their skin and meat for commercial gain. Tiger skin is used in Asia for home decoration and the meat is often sold to restaurants because it is a delicacy in some countries.
Our party wants to strengthen laws, form stricter punishments for poachers and work towards protecting all wild animals. We want to strengthen the laws that make poaching and wildlife trade illegal because the gaps in protection are what allow this crime to happen. Weak judicial systems and light sentences are what allow criminals to continue killing wild animals without any consequences. We want to station more law enforcement in national parks and areas with high poaching crimes. This will help catch more criminal groups and fugitives that are involved in poaching and wildlife trading crimes. Penalties for poachers who are caught vary throughout the world. Some may spend years in jail and other may only receive a small fine. Our party wants to make punishments for poachers stricter and more severe. All people who commit the illegal crime of poaching or wildlife trade should receive a jail sentence of 15 to 20 years. We also strive to protect and preserve all wild animals around the world. Wild animals are currently only provided the highest level of protection when they are endangered and facing extinction. Our party wants to propose that all animals, endangered or not, deserve to have the highest level of protection.