Category Archives: Anti-Poaching

Anti-poaching efforts, the life of a ranger, related groups, and poaching statistics.

Sharing a Message: “Stop Poaching”

Today we want to share a great message from our friend Mikkel Rasmus Hansen who has created an incredible infographic illustrating many aspects of the African poaching crisis.

Check out his website Safari Tanzania (mostly in Danish), stop by his blog to share this message on social media, and look out for more great visuals from him on the illegal wildlife trade in the future!

Loading…

Loading…

Made by Safari Tanzania

Thoughts on Volunteering in Africa Without a Firearm

When I talk about my volunteer experiences I often get asked whether I carried a firearm and what it was like to be in situations where I had to interact with dangerous game and people. But in the areas that I’ve volunteered in, which I would consider to be low- and medium-risk in terms of poaching, a firearm hasn’t been necessary. Getting into a situation where your life is threatened by wildlife or poacher is more likely due to not having the knowledge and skills to avoid a conflict you can’t win or an encounter you can’t escape from. Having knowledge and respect for the wildlife and people present in the surrounding areas is far more important than being able to react violently to a threat that could have been avoided, or safely neutralized, in the first place.

Guns vs Animals vs People

One aspect of working in the wilderness that many people forget is that the animals don’t know that anti-poaching rangers, conservationists, or helpful volunteers are on their side. They view us as a potential threat just as they would any predator because the way that humans interact and move through the environment is in a predatory fashion. We move directly towards our goal, not cautiously in an arc (a passive movement), slowly getting closer while watching for potential predators. And we’re designed to prey on others: we have the advantages of excellent color perception, binocular vision for depth of field, strength,  and so many other advantages that predators also share. Animals are smart enough to see us for the predators that we are and react accordingly.

Most animals run away when disturbed by humans and this is true even of other predators. While we think of lions and leopards as fierce and fearsome adversaries that could easily kill a man, they don’t want to risk a confrontation that might get them mortally wounded. Wildlife’s incorrect assessment of human strengths and weaknesses plays into the strength and safety of anyone that moves through the wilderness. Understanding animal behavior is a big part of staying safe in any situation, and understanding human behavior corresponds to dealing with all human interactions, whether at work or in the field tracking poachers.

And for the most part, small arms and even medium-caliber rifles are not going to stop large animals like African bufflo, elephants, or rhino that are charging a human. These animals can run surprisingly fast and have skulls that can stop some bullets, making an attempt to aim and fire a waste of time. Better to be respectful of the wildlife in the first place and not risk their life or yours.

Skills and Training

Learning how to be respectful of the environment and the wildlife within is essential to staying safe. The training gained from anti-poaching rangers, security professionals, and military specialists is essential. So is the information gained from the people local to the region, who have grown up in the area and understand how to avoid threatening wildlife and if necessary avoid dangerous game entirely. Moving quietly or noisily can be important depending on the types of wildlife one expects to encounter. Additionally moving so that you are positioned up-wind of potentially dangerous game provides them an opportunity to catch your scent and allow them to make the decision to move away on their own. That way you don’t accidentally walk into a herd of elephants that would prefer not to be disturbed.

Staying open-minded and alert are other essential aspects of respecting wildlife and moving safely through areas where poachers might be lurking. Choosing the easiest path through dense foliage might not be the best idea because it might be a popular “highway” for large animals to use. Moving along paths that one can’t clearly see the far end of can be equally dangerous and sometimes moving through tall grass and slogging through mud is a safer route to avoid an unpleasant encounter.

Poachers understand how animals behave as well and following preconceived paths can lead into an ambush, something that smart, experienced poachers will employ whenever they think they are threatened by pursuing rangers. Knowledge of the lay of the land and how to cut-off or counter-ambush a group of poachers becomes essential techniques for anti-poaching rangers through the use of unconventional movements and tactics. Most important to avoiding common behavior and falling into a trap is to be adaptive to changing situations. This is an advantage that motorized anti-poaching groups have over poachers as they can quickly move units to positions well ahead of the poacher’s eyes and ears and attempt to ambush them while they flee on foot.

Teamwork and Numerical and Technological Superiority

Operating as a team is essential to completing patrols and snare sweeps in a reasonable amount of time. And the way that people look at things, the way they perceive the world around them, means that having different sets of eyes and ears focusing on the same task yields very good results.

Especially in encounters with wildlife or hostile humans it’s important to have a numerical advantage to show a strength through unity that the other animals or people might not want to fight against. In the case of wildlife this usually means that they will move off in a safe direction and do so in a non-threatening way. Most animals — and people — are not going to engage a group that is obviously numerically superior to its own.

However armed or well-trained poachers may not be as easily dissuaded by numerical superiority by anti-poaching rangers or related assistants, so that numerical superiority, along with the cohesiveness of teamwork, can be used to quickly overwhelm and overcome a dangerous group. In Kruger National Park there have been incidents where armed poachers have been arrested by a smaller force that used the advantage of surprise and speed to overwhelm them. It turned out that some of those poachers didn’t even know how to use their weapons effectively, which didn’t prevent the poachers from being dangerous and discharging their firearms. But the use of teamwork effectively and decisively  removed the threat and arrests were made with no anti-poaching rangers getting hurt.

Of course, not all poachers are so poorly trained or ill-equipped, which means that numerical superiority and good equipment and logistics is required to overcome the threats that poachers pose in a way that minimizes the risk of the anti-poaching rangers.

The Aspects that Affect Conservation and Anti-Poaching Initiatives: Introduction

Many improvements can be made in the way that conservation and wildlife protection is provided in Africa and Asia, however there are a number of reasons why these improvements are not easy to make or readily accessible to the people on the ground. Education and technology are interwoven in their ability to aid conservation efforts and improve understanding and support worldwide. Future articles in this cross section of conservation and anti-poaching technology will relate ways that current and future technologies can and do influence conservation efforts.

Politics

Africa is a massive continent composed of roughly 55 countries, some of the wealthiest and poorest, and is home to more than 1.1 billion people from many cultures speaking thousands of languages. Additionally, the lower half of the continent tends to observe Christianity while in the upper half varieties of Islam are more common. Because of these immensely diverse aspects represented by so many countries it’s not the easiest place to unify or push towards a singular goal. And due to decades of regional turmoil many governments lack the strong democratic foundations and liberties that many western nations enjoy.

Many of these problems stem from residual effects of colonization by various European powers. The country of South Africa for instance includes land that was at one time colonized or settled by the English, Dutch, Germans, and French — sometimes simultaneously. Administration of these territories by foreign powers created boundaries that divided existing governments and cultures and sometimes reconsolidated disparate groups in one region which led to violent conflict. Similar post-colonial issues affect the current borders and cultural groupings of Middle Eastern and Asian countries which feature much more prominently in the news today.

Colonization and world wars had devastating affects on some African countries and slowed their progress to becoming self-sufficient and strong countries. For instance Libya gained independence from Italy in 1951 and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) was only recognized as independent from the United Kingdom in 1980. As with many other countries that sought independence but lacked the guidance to achieve a form of government representative of the people they quickly devolved into military dictatorships and repressive regimes. Perhaps worst off were the countries like Angola and Mozambique (located on opposite sides of the continent) which both fought wars for independence from Portugal then succumbed to internal political turmoil and violence that allowed for post-independence civil wars to ensue and envelope adjacent regions in further conflict. Many of the top-tier poachers in Africa are veterans of these wars with extensive paramilitary and even special forces training and modern equipment.

“Rhodesian geopolitical situation in 1975; Green: Rhodesia; Blue: Government allies; Red: Nationalist allies.” Attrib: Cliftonian, Wikipedia.org

This instability is not entirely the fault of western influence, but European colonialism as well as Cold War power-plays by Russia, China, and many other countries have contributed to a suspicion of many westerners and foreigners in general among many African governments. This has a profound effect on western conservation organizations and individuals that want to lend assistance but are turned away because of past disagreements and continued distrust at a national level. Importing goods from overseas, such as vehicles and other large pieces of equipment essential for effectively securing private reserves becomes difficult if not impossible when the host government is skeptical of the intent of the equipment. For this reason many already militarized governments, such as Zimbabwe’s, make it extremely difficult for foreigners to license vehicles, firearms, drones and other items that could be turned on the government.

People and Culture

The most important aspects of conservation that people tend to overlook are the existing people and cultures of the region which must coexist with wildlife or which already suffer from human-wildlife conflict. These people, usually in small towns, must also coexist with the Non-Governmental Organizations that have conservation efforts in the area and the foreigners that come into the country to support it.

As with any situation that brings together people from different cultures, backgrounds, and financial situations there can be hostility or wariness of the other group, slowing the progress of working together towards a common goal. Bringing in members of the local community to support conservation efforts can be a great way to strengthen that relationship; provide jobs; and find reliable, skilled individuals that know the terrain, wildlife, and will work for reasonable wages. It’s common knowledge in the tracking and anti-poaching community that locals in many of these regions have excellent tracking and hunting skills which in some cases are identical to covert or guerilla warfare tactics. The special forces of several countries, including the United States and United Kingdom have trained with and developed their tactics from certain groups of African natives that have generations of experience operating covertly in the bush.

Economy

Many people generalize that Africa is an impoverished region and while there are extreme situations of poverty represented in a number of African countries, Africa has its share of wealth with approximately 100,000 known millionaires, as well as some of the largest economies in the world. However many African nations still have a large income disparity between the people making the most and the least money, and interest in caring about the future of the country and its natural resources are left to those who can exert the most power, while the disenfranchised have to work constantly at not slipping into abject poverty. Few people seem to have time to care about the health and long-term considerations related to the natural resources and wildlife of their country.

In Tourist Traps, Wildlife, and Sustainable Tourism I mentioned how the tourism industry relates to the local and national economy and can effect conservation efforts.This has a large effect on the way countries view foreign tourists (usually with the minimum amount of politeness), but it also relates to the way governments see conservation efforts and wealthy private donors that may lease reserves or contribute large amounts of funding to specific conservation programs such as elephant conservation or lion rewilding. Governments and businesses see these programs as great ways to improve the health of local wildlife and ecosystems at little or no cost to the programs that exploit wildlife — often with no long-term plan to cope with dwindling lion and rhino populations which are major attractions for photo safaris and hunting reserves.

Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, all countries in southern Africa, generate about 10% of their respective Gross Domestic Product through the tourism industry. Even South Africa with its strong mining industry sees around 10% of employment from tourism and travel industries. This also contributes to a large portion of employment in these countries, particularly Namibia which has nearly 20% of its workforce employed in the tourism sector. Much of the tourism industry is centered around the abundant wildlife and natural beauty of these countries, but as poaching has lead to more human-targeted violence and a steep decline in the most popular wildlife species tourists have been scared away.  It’s the role of conservation groups to not only revitalize the environment in these regions but to also explain the importance of long-term investments in environmental health so that lucrative tourism industries can again thrive in the future.

Size and Scope

One of the largest obstacles is how wide-spread poaching is and how much land would have to be actively protected in order to substantially reduce poaching by locals, subsistence farmers, commercial poachers, and other groups with an interest and association with animal trafficking groups.

However modern technology is playing a large role in more effectively applying skills and improving time and resource management. Just as farmers are able to more effectively track their livestock with aerial surveillance equipment conservationists are finding utility in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles equipped with basic, reliable, and inexpensive equipment that can be used and abused in the field without too much concern over operational costs.

St. Inigoes, Md. (June 27, 2005) – A group photo of aerial demonstrators at the 2005 Naval Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Air Demo held at the Webster Field Annex of Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Pictured are (front to back, left to right) RQ-11A Raven, Evolution, Dragon Eye, NASA FLIC, Arcturus T-15, Skylark, Tern, RQ-2B Pioneer and Neptune. The daylong UAV demonstration highlights unmanned technology and capabilities from the military and industry and offers a unique opportunity to display and demonstrate full-scale systems and hardware. This year’s theme was, “Focusing Unmanned Technology on the Global War on Terror.” – Wikipedia.org

These technologies can create an advantage for the conservationists and anti-poaching organizations that often operate against superior numbers of poachers. However poachers are not without technology and the groups funded by criminal syndicates, rebel governments, and even state militaries are exceptionally well outfitted with supplies, weapons, vehicles, and even internet-enabled devices such as laptops and tablets. This rise of technology has become particularly problematic for areas such as Kruger National Park where civilian-developed wildlife sighting apps are being used by poachers to find the geo-location of recent rhino and elephant sightings and home in on those animals, sometimes killing them the same day they’re photographed and marked by the app.

But conservation groups with the help of outside experts are able to use their own tools to protect those same animals by creating advantages in tracking, observation, and even development of informant networks that cross political boundaries. All of this information can be assessed and translated into to useful data that can help predict where poaching hotspots will develop and what types of people are doing the poaching. By using these distinct advantages against an opponent the effectiveness of an individual or group can be focused and even exceed the expected effectiveness of the normal unit. The military has a term for this: a force multiplier. Conservation and anti-poaching groups that success in exploiting these advantages will be effective in their goals but also save money and lives.

In the end all conservation efforts, including those to restore the natural balance of wildlife, will depend upon financial and personal support by the people that are most affected by conflict, political instability, economic recessions, human and wildlife rights, and environmental changes: all of us.

Southern Africa 2014: My Anti-Poaching Volunteer Experiences in Zimbabwe

Disclosure: Due to the sensitive nature of the areas and properties that I visited I won’t be going into detail about specific locations of animals, times of activities, number of individuals or animals involved, or other information that might pose a security risk to those that work or volunteer in the area. Rangers and civilians across Africa and Asia die every day protecting our wildlife and it’s vital when talking about these situations that we remember that maintaining Operational Security helps keep those who work and operate in wildlife conservation areas safe.

Resources on Zimbabwe:
Atlas of Zimbabwe on Wikimedia.org
BBC's Zimbabwe Country Profile (2013)
Zimbabwe on CIA's The World Fact Book
Zimbabwe on Wikipedia.org

Before leaving for southern Africa I described the kinds of activities I expected to participate in as an anti-poaching volunteer. Having had previous experience with the same group, but in a different country and under different circumstances, I was provided with a broad set of expectations that I pared down to what I thought I was most likely to encounter on this volunteering adventure. My Planning & Gear List also reflected my expectations of the climate, terrain, flora and fauna, and camping conditions that I would encounter. One additional adjustment I had to make to my gear list was removing any camouflage gear from my bags because it’s illegal to wear in Zimbabwe and the clothing or gear can be confiscated by the police (who will then use it or sell it).

Preparation

The duration of my trip to southern Africa was going to be about 20 hours of flight time each way, plus several hours of layovers. Then roughly five weeks in southern Africa spent volunteering and a few days sightseeing. In general I like to pack relatively light, especially when traveling to a country that might become destabilized due to changes in the political structure, but on this trip I packed for three weeks worth of travel with the hopes of being able to wash or launder my gear at least once. Because we were spending a lot of time in remote areas this meant bringing a lot more clothing and more personal supplies than I was used to when camping or hiking in the States and with access to a vehicle. It also meant preparing for situations and weather that weren’t ideal and bringing funds in the appropriate currencies to make safe travel reasonably convenient.

On this trip I did a better job preparing for the climate by bringing a cold-weather sleeping bag that was sufficient for the cool nights and chill wind that brought temperatures down to 4 Celsius (40 degrees F). The sleeping bag I took to South Africa last year was warm, but poorly suited for the near-freezing temperatures we experienced and the intense wind. I also brought more long-sleeved clothing that I could layer and take off as the mornings heated up or put on as the evenings rapidly cooled down. But I also keep long shirts and pants on throughout the day to help keep the sun off, which being so close to the equator was more intense than I had experienced even in the American southwest.

Long pants and long-sleeve shirts also helped keep the insects away. While mosquitoes were almost nonexistent due of the time of year and temperatures we did have problems with other pests that crawled up our sleeves, down our socks, and even into some of the volunteers’ water bottles. On our overnight patrols and operations which included setting up listening posts (LP) and observation posts (OP) we layered on as much clothing as we could, then threw jackets and coats on over top with hats and face masks to keep us warm while laying in the grass, sitting at the top of observation areas, or doing perimeter sweeps.

I wasn’t sure if the volunteers were going to be given proper tents, something that we had last time, thinking that we might be spending time at a barracks or similar building when we were not moving around from property to property. But we did have tents again (see main photo) and they were placed on concrete foundations and thus were quite comfortable and dry. We had the privilege of having roughly one tent for each of us, though sometimes we shared tents while on overnight duties. Overall, the privacy having our own tent afforded us, and the distance it put between me and the volunteers that snored, was priceless.

We also had the luxury of “indoor” flush toilets, as well as a reasonable amount of water which we pumped from a nearby water supply. The water was not potable, but it was sanitary enough to bathe and clean with without having to be treated with chemicals. A benefit of not having to treat the water with chlorine or iodine is that the wastewater can then be discarded without worrying about it dramatically impacting wildlife or plants in the area through pesticide or soluble inorganic matter contamination.

Knowledge & Training

Throughout our time volunteering the volunteers had access to all the knowledge and skills acquired by the rangers, conservationists, game guides, and others that we were there to help but also learn from. We got to watch and experience the way that the areas operated, received lectures and training on a variety of topics including animal tracking, property management, and field medical training which also included points on helicopter evacuation, which is one of the only viable means of transportation while in remote areas. I’ll do my best to pass along information, experience, and notes that I received through these lectures and training courses in future posts.

Because I had some previous experience and was reasonably confident in my knowledge of the properties’ layouts I also got to assist in some management duties which gave me insight into the operational concerns of the camp: the logistics of moving volunteers around, making sure that rangers were able to get to and from their assignments, and dealing with the realities of secure radio communication in less-then-desirable terrain and weather.

I also got to see how the administrators of the foundation ran the anti-poaching side of things and saw how they dealt with any difficulties that they encountered. Being able to shadow former soldiers, professional conservationists, and rangers as they went about their administrative business showed me how much time they invest in planning not just for the day’s events and drills, but also for any eventuality that they can think of, and the time involved in organizing plans that takes time away from other tasks that need to be accomplished. As with any organization there is always a balance between what can be done and what must be done, but it becomes even more apparent with an organization that has to juggle the responsibilities of keeping wildlife and people safe while also fostering a healthy relationship with the surrounding community which can be impacted just as dramatically by poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and poor economic conditions.

I noted some of the planning that goes into successfully operating an organization dedicated to wildlife protection and conservation:

  • Arranging supply runs for food and essentials at regular intervals (which means not going into town in uniform/hiking attire that might tip off outsiders as to the organization’s schedule).
  • Maintaining a rotation of rangers across various duties: patrolling, tracking, security, wildlife management; and also arranging for the rangers to have time off so that they can visit their families and live a reasonably normal life.
  • Paying the bills. Not just for utilities, supplies, and other essentials, but also paying for equipment or salaries for the anti-poaching rangers and volunteers and also maintaining life and health insurance policies for the rangers.
  • Dealing with the schedules of the property owners, management officials, local and national government officials, and generally being on our best behavior as guests in the country.
  • Doing everything by the book and making sure that changes in protocol or government policy are quickly and effectively communicated to others in the organization.
  • Wildlife population and habitat assessment: Determining how many animals of a particular species can survive in an area at current and future levels of forestation, types of vegetation, predation, disease, and other factors.
  • Balancing the conservation resources (such as water) while simultaneously doing as much as possible to protect specific species which are resources in their own right (elephants and rhino) which might mean creating artificial watering holes for specific species to rely on during the dry season.

Voluntary Duty

As volunteers we were never required to do anything that we felt unsafe or uncomfortable doing, however we all did our part to keep the camp and toilet/shower facilities clean and lend a hand to the rangers or others doing menial tasks that are required for day-to-day living in the bush. The volunteers also weren’t required to participate in any of the activities on a given day, but of course the reason we were out there was to participate, so only in rare instances did individuals skip going on a patrol or game walk.

We got to see and learn about a lot of interesting animals, their behaviors, and their roles in the environment. We had the opportunity to operate with some fascinating individuals and get up close to exotic animals, but there were a lot of menial duties that we were given both so that we received an understanding of how hard the employees of the property work and also because we were extra hands available to do such work, whereas rangers, with their unique skills and abilities, were of more use performing their specific duties. While some of the projects the volunteers helped with weren’t very exciting or related to anti-poaching, they were still tasks that were ultimately important to our cause and the groups that run the organization and property.

I had a great time volunteering in Zimbabwe and found the country to be beautiful and, during the winter at least, very hospitable. The tourist activities I participated in were without equal and I’m looking forward to going on more adventures and seeing more of what Africa has to offer in the future. I also enjoyed working alongside and volunteering for the anti-poaching organization that last year I volunteered with in South Africa. They’re great people and don’t compromise their integrity or morals to do a very difficult job.

I’ll go into more depth about some of my experiences in future posts and include some pictures to give a better idea of what the volunteer experience was like. I’ll also discuss what life is like for the various employees, rangers, and conservation experts that have dedicated their lives to these endeavors.

Adventures and Conservation in the News: March 2014

There have been a couple interesting and important articles in the news this month:

[Anti-Poaching] SANParks.org: Rhino Poaching Statistics for January-March 14 (2014) – 172 rhino have been illegally killed in South Africa since the beginning of 2014. The majority of these have occurred in the 19,633 square kilometer (7,580 square mile) Kruger National Park. 54 poachers have been arrested since the beginning of the year across South Africa.

[Conservation] FastCoExist.com: These Drones Don’t Kill People, They Protect Endangered Animals – A brief article on some of the advancements that groups like ConservationDrones.org and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation are making in the development or use of non-military drones for purposes of tracking and conserving wildlife.

[Adventure] NPR.org: Mind the Gap Year: A Break Before College Might do Some Good – Food for thought for high school students and young people interested in putting something unique on their resume above and beyond normal extracurricular activities. There is also a book titled The Complete Guide to the Gap Year by Kristin M. White (Amazon.com link) which has some insight into what kinds of things aspiring college students should do, how deans of college admissions view gap years, and how to finance a gap year. I’ll be writing about this topic as well in a future post.

[Conservation/Anti-Poaching] Mashable.com: Cyberpoaching: Why Hackers Pose a Deadly Threat to Endangered Animals – A brief explanation of new methods that poachers and criminals are using to gain an upper hand in the trade of animal parts.

[Conservation] ArsTechnica.com: Elephants Use Their Smarts to Cope with Human Threats – This article discusses a number of studies which indicate that elephants are able to visually and audibly recognize humans based on what they wear, how they sound, and the noises that we make when approaching. They then use this information to make a threat assessment.

[Wildlife] Phys.org: Do Elephants Call “Human!”? – A great article on a recent study on alarm calls made by elephants. The study suggests what rangers have speculated for years: that elephants can communicate with subsonic and individualized alarm calls for each threat — including humans.

[Shoutout] And a shout-out to a military historian and blogger who is walking and discussing historic sites throughout Europe: War Walks for Health.

Working on the Front-Line Against Rhino Poaching

In 2013 I had the opportunity to volunteer with the International Anti Poaching Foundation in southern Africa as part of their Green Army program. It put a group of volunteers in roles where we carried out basic, day-to-day activities like sweeping through kilometers of knee-high and chest-high grass looking for snares and patrolling roads, creeks, and kopie (a large rocky out-cropping) for signs of intrusion to poorly protected properties.

Undisclosed Private Reserve
A large koppie — rocky outcropping — in the distance. The guinea pig-like Rock Hyrax (known colloquially as a “dassie”) love these areas.

I learned a lot and it wasn’t only about local conservation methods, invasive species of flora, how to track animals, and even track people. I also learned how difficult it is, first hand, to be out in the bush every day and to have all the odds against you. Although our cause was objectively moral, we were still on the losing side of things and that was emphasized every time we came across the carcass of an animal that maybe we were a couple days too late to save. Or when we found snares that had gone unnoticed by reserve employees for so long that trees had grown around the metal. And that was in what I consider to be only a moderate-risk area.

The below video, titled “Kruger the Eastern Frontier,” is one that the IAPF posted to their YouTube channel and goes into more detail about an area of southern Africa that is probably *the most high-risk* for rhino poaching. The video goes into more detail than I can express in a few paragraphs or even in several pages and explains the situation of this area and why the “life expectancy of a rhino wandering through this fence is less than half a day.” (Please be aware that the video contains some very graphic images in the beginning.)

It’s hard to believe it’s come to that. In 2013 there were 1,004 rhino poached in the country of South Africa alone. There are no statistics for Mozambique, which is rife with violence.

Related Posts:

Overview: Poaching in Africa and Asia

If you would like to learn more about efforts to stop poaching, please take a look at the Objective page and learn why conservation is important and how anti-poaching methods can assist in protecting the world’s wildlife and improve standards of living for humans. If you’re ready to make a commitment to preserving our wildlife, take a look at the Conservation Organizations & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers featured on the Donate page and choose one that suits you. If you’re ready to get involved in your own adventure then jump over to the Get Involved page.

Overview: Poaching in Africa and Asia

Poaching has already taken a huge toll in Asia. A wild cheetah hasn’t been seen in India since before the 1960s and few remain in Iran. Populations of leopards and tigers throughout Asia have been culled to extreme levels that the animals may not bounce back from even with human help. And China’s killing of sharks is another widespread problem that shows little understanding of the finite supply of animals and the harm to the environment by using them in traditional medicines or cultural dishes. It’s imperative to increase the existing conservation efforts and put additional emphasis on educating the people that participate in the trade of animal parts.

Black rhino populations are reaching a critical point in Africa, just like tigers in Asia, and it’s estimated that fewer than 4,000 exist in all of Africa. Populations of all sub-species of white rhino have also been reduced by more than 90% due to hunting and poaching over the last century with an estimated 14,500 left in all of Africa. Rhino poaching in South Africa alone has accounted for more than 600 rhino confirmed killed in 2012 and over 1000 killed in 2013. This is despite the efforts of numerous anti-poaching groups and the South African National Defense Force which operates in South Africa’s portion of the 19,485 square kilometer (7,523 mi2) Kruger National Park.

Source: http://www.helpingrhinos.org/about-rhinos/rhino-poaching/
1004 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2013 and 37 have been killed in the first 17 days of January 2014.

Image Source: http://www.helpingrhinos.org/about-rhinos/rhino-poaching/

Data Source: https://www.environment.gov.za/mediarelease/rhinopoaching_statistics_17jan2014

Asian countries are the primary importers of illegal rhino horn and elephant tusks. China and Vietnam need to continue to fight myths about mystical uses for rhino horn. However every country has a role in educating its people about the utility of animals and that while there are many things to gain from animals, baseless traditions of showing off one’s wealth by eating shark fin soup has no place in modern society.

There are many breeding and habitat adaptation programs to accelerate growth of tiger populations, and even efforts to introduce tigers into Africa which may prove a perfect habitat for them. But a concerted effort is also needed to pursue and prosecute illegal hunters as well as deal with the insurgents crossing country boundaries and targeting civilians.

Related Posts:

Working on the Front Line Against Rhino Poaching

An Explanation of Poaching

If you would like to learn more about efforts to stop poaching, please take a look at the Objective page and learn why conservation is important and how anti-poaching methods can assist in protecting the world’s wildlife and improve standards of living for humans. If you’re ready to make a commitment to preserving our wildlife, take a look at the Conservation Organizations & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers featured on the Donate page. If you’re ready to get involved in your own adventure then jump over to the Get Involved page.

(Title Image: Head of a male Javan rhino shot on 31 January 1934 at Sindangkerta in West Java. Specimen preserved in the Zoological Museum of Buitenzorg (Bogor) (from Sody, 1941, first published in Indonesia). From the RhinoResourceCenter.com)