In the last several years, the issue of wildlife poaching has dramatically increased. Instability and war in certain areas has led to poachers having easier access to endangered animals and also created groups, such as militias, looking to profit from the lucrative trade. Certain animals can bring in tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars for poachers; the industry itself is worth over $200 billion a year. Unfortunately, in addition to the practice of being cruel, many of the targeted animals are severely endangered and poaching is only pushing them closer to extinction. Thankfully, there are many people out there working hard to prevent poaching from continuing; here are some examples of ways to end poaching, many of which you can help with through donations, volunteer work, or simply raising awareness.
A very new and sophisticated method conservationists are using to decrease poaching is tracking animal DNA. When authorities confiscate poached goods, they can use DNA tracking to learn exactly where the animal was poached, which then allows them to focus on that population and create more security to protect the group.
Modifying horns or tusks
Another common method that’s being used on animals poached for their ivory is modifying their horns or tusks. When possible, conservationists humanely saw off the tusks of animals like rhinos or elephants. However, this method is not as effective as people would like and the animals are often still killed for the small amount of ivory left behind or because the poachers are angry about the efforts to stop them.
Since a lot of the poaching trade stems from beliefs that certain animals parts can benefit humans when consumed, it’s helpful to raise awareness in the people purchasing the poached animals and even those doing the poaching. Teaching people the impact poaching has on environments and how there aren’t really benefits to poached materials can help end some of the poaching trade.
Mapping and monitoring technology
One of the most effective methods to combat poaching has been the sophisticated technology used to map the territories of commonly poached animals, track them, and watch out for any poachers traveling through the area. Since there are not enough people to secure such large areas, cameras and motion detectors are useful for catching poachers, along with thermal imaging. Poachers often operate at night and thermal imaging makes it easier to find and stop them before they poach any endangered animals.
Legalize the trade
There are quite a few people who are supporters of this theory, though others are vehemently against it. The idea is that legalized trading in poached animals would lead to lower prices and less demand and it would lose the appeal to poachers because they’d make less money. While many poached goods could be humanely and legally provided, people are afraid that it would only encourage poachers to continue their activities and it would be difficult to gain control of the market.
A great way conservationists have achieved success in protecting poached animals is encouraging local communities to protect them. Teaching local communities the importance of conservation and then helping them turn their local wildlife into a tourism industry, such as offering safari tours, helps incentivize the local people to protect the wildlife as it becomes their source of income through tourism.