Taking wildlife on land that is restricted, owned by or licensed to somebody else.
The animal or plant has been tagged by a researcher.
Sociological and criminological research on poaching indicates that in North America people poach for commercial gain, home consumption, trophies, pleasure and thrill in killing wildlife, or because they disagree with certain hunting regulations, claim a traditional right to hunt, or have negative dispositions toward legal authority. In rural areas of the USA, the key motives for poaching are poverty. Interviews conducted with 41 poachers in the Atchafalaya River basin in Louisiana revealed that 37 of them hunt to provide food for themselves and their families; 11 stated that poaching is part of their personal or cultural history; nine earn money from the sale of poached game to support their families; eight feel exhilarated and thrilled by outsmarting game wardens.
The existence of an international market for poached wildlife implies that well-organised gangs of professional poachers enter vulnerable areas to hunt, and crime syndicates organise the trafficking of wildlife body parts through a complex interlinking network to markets outside the respective countries of origin.
Wildlife tourism destinations face a negative publicity; those holding a permit for wildlife-based land uses, tourism-based tour and lodging operators lose income; employment opportunities are reduced.
In 2007, it was estimated that parrot trappers capture about 65,000–78,500 wild parrots each year in Mexico, mainly by setting nets or by collecting nestlings from tree cavities. About 50,000–60,000, more than 75%, die before reaching customers. Between 2003 and 2006, Mexican wildlife officials did not issue permits for parrot trapping as legal permits provided cover for the illegal trade of poached parrots. Illegal trapping of wild parrots affects most of the 22 parrot species native to Mexico including:
West Indian manatees were illegally hunted in the Port Honduras area in Belize at least until the end of 1990s. Poachers were suspected to come from Guatemala and Honduras. Manatees were killed for meat, and their bones used for carving trinket and other souvenirs sold in local markets in the Yucatán Peninsula. In 2002, it was estimated that about 40 manatees are killed annually along the eastern Nicaraguan coast and in inland wetlands by poachers and incidental drowning in fishing nets.
In October 2013 poachers poisoned more than 300 African elephants in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Conservationists have claimed the incident to be the highest massacre of animals in South Africa in 25 years. African elephants continue to remain a high target for poachers and some researchers have estimated that African elephants may be extinct in 25-50 years in the wild. Estimates of over 25,000 to 35,000 African elephants were killed for their tusks in 2012.
A seashell vendor in Tanzania sells to tourists seashells which have been taken from the sea alive, killing the animal inside.
The body parts of many animals, such as tigers and rhinoceroses, are believed to have certain positive effects on the human body, including increasing virility and curing cancer. These parts are sold in areas where these beliefs are practiced - mostly Asian countries particularly Vietnam and China - on the black market.
A vendor selling illegal items at a Chinese market for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Some of the pieces pictured include parts of animals such as a tiger's paw.
Traditional Chinese medicine often incorporates ingredients from all parts of plants, the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. The use of parts of endangered species (such as seahorses, rhinoceros horns, binturong and tiger bones and claws) has created controversy and resulted in a black market of poachers. Deep-seated cultural beliefs in the potency of tiger parts are so prevalent across China and other east Asian countries that laws protecting even critically endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger fail to stop the display and sale of these items in open markets, according to a 2008 report from TRAFFIC. Popular "medicinal" tiger parts from poached animals include tiger genitals, culturally believed to improve virility, and tiger eyes.
Rhino populations face extinction because of demand in Asia (for traditional medicine and as a luxury item) and in the Middle East (where horns are used for decoration). A sharp surge in demand for rhino horn in Vietnam was attributed to rumors that the horn cured cancer, even though the rumor has no basis in science. Recent prices for a kilo of crushed rhino horn have gone for as much as $60,000, more expensive than a kilo of gold. Vietnam is the only nation which mass-produces bowls made for grinding rhino horn.
Ivory, which is a natural material of several animals, plays a large part in the trade of illegal animal materials and poaching. Ivory is a material used in creating art objects and jewelry where the ivory is carved with designs. China is a consumer of the ivory trade and accounts for a significant amount of ivory sales. In 2012, The New York Times reported on a large upsurge in ivory poaching, with about 70% of all illegal ivory flowing to China.
Fur is also a natural material which is sought after by poachers.
Brass Plaque on door at Tremeddafarm, Zennor, Cornwall, England. It reads: Take notice that as of from today's date poachers shall be shot on first sight and if practicable questioned afterwards. By order: J.R. Bramble, Head Gamekeeper to His Grace the Duke of Gumby. 1st November 1868[note 1]
Poaching was romanticized in literature from the time of the ballads of Robin Hood, as an aspect of the "greenwood" of Merry England. Non est inquirendum, unde venit venison ("It is not to be inquired, whence comes the venison"), observed Guillaume Budé in his Traitte de la vénerie.
Some game wardens have made use of robotic decoy animals placed in high visibility areas to draw out poachers for arrest after the decoys are shot. Sturgeon and paddlefish (aka "spoonbill catfish") are listed as species of "special concern" by the U.S. Federal government, but are only banned from fishing in a few states such as Mississippi and Texas.
Members of the Rhino Rescue Project have developed a novel technique to prevent rhino poaching in South Africa. They inject a mixture of indelible dye and a parasiticide that allows them to track the horns and poisons the rhino horn consumers. Since rhino horn is made of keratin, the procedure is painless.
Another initiative that seeks to protect Africa's elephant populations from poaching activities is the Tanzanian organization Africa's Wildlife Trust. Hunting for ivory was banned in 1989, but poaching of elephants continues in many parts of Africa stricken by economic decline.
Large quantities of ivory are sometimes destroyed as a statement against poaching (aka "ivory crush"). In 2013 the Phillipines were the first country to destroy their national seized ivory stock. In 2014 China followed suit and crushed six tons of ivory as a symbolic statement against poaching.
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