Illegal elephant poaching in South Africa has been a major problem for many decades. About every 15 minutes, an elephant is poached for its ivory. That`s nearly 100 elephants per day and nearly 40,000 elephants per year (Meijer, 2018). It is also estimated that this trade is a source of funding for organized crime to the tune of $10 billion per year (CITES, 2014). The drivers of elephant poaching and ivory trade « are diverse and complex, including the motivation of Chinese consumers stemming from the socially constructed economic, social, cultural, aesthetic, religious and medicinal values of ivory » (Yufang Gao, & Clark, S., 2014). The illegal ivory trade is directly linked to countries where these cultural beliefs are prevalent. Wildlife trafficking undermines security in all countries, and it is important to understand what is happening so that we know how best to act. However, if you are caught poaching more valuable animals such as elephants or rhinos, or if you are labeled as a repeat offender, you can expect much higher fines and possibly a long prison sentence. It is also important to remember that in most provinces, hunting licences are required with the permission of the landowner. But what about the motivations of individual authors? TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade NGO, decided to ask them. The researchers interviewed 73 people in South African correctional facilities who had been convicted of crimes related to rhinos, abalone or cycads (ancient palm-like plants described as « the world`s most endangered plants »). Ultimately, poaching is less of a threat to wildlife than habitat loss and changes in land use. These can only be reduced if it is in the economic interest of local communities to preserve land for wildlife.
And that requires much more than locking up individuals. Since then, the number of elephant deaths due to poaching in the country has dropped by 80% and the number of rhino deaths due to poaching by 90%. The decline can be attributed in part to tougher laws, Kahumbu wrote in an article for the Guardian, a British daily. It`s not just potential wildlife criminals facing empty wallets. Officials enforcing conservation laws are often poorly paid and unmotivated – in some cases, they themselves lead corrupt police officers to participate in the illegal wildlife trade. Hunting licenses can usually be purchased for a small fee at one of the many offices listed here. Because regulations vary from province to province, it is difficult to say exactly what you are allowed to hunt and how much a licence will cost you. It is therefore important for hunters to know the rules of the province in which they will be hunting before going out. As you can see, fines for poaching largely depend on the animal. While hunting without proper permits is still a crime, getting caught with a regular, not endangered animal will usually result in a small fine, while hunting protected species can really damage your bank account and even land you in a jail cell. Now that we`ve understood the legal language of hunting, it`s time to understand what happens when you break the rules, and states and the international community are increasingly recognizing the need to improve the law and enforcement. politicalecologynetwork.wordpress.com/poaching/ Several African countries have already adopted new laws or increased penalties.
Mozambique enacted a new nature conservation law in June 2014, making poaching a serious crime. Poverty reduction (along with weak demand and reduced corruption) has proven key to making the ivory trade less deadly for African elephants. And strategies focused on socio-economic benefits and community outreach appear to be more effective than enforcing anti-poaching laws. In other words, fewer prison sentences of 10 years or more for community management would ultimately help to better protect endangered species. In the past, Kenya has treated poaching as a minor offense, but a law introduced in 2013 requires high minimum sentences for wildlife crimes, including prison sentences for killing endangered species. There are some indicators that elephant poaching rates have decreased in some areas, but it is likely that areas where a large amount of poaching takes place have simply changed. Colin Beale, a geographic information systems (GIS) scientist, decided to produce data on the number of elephant carcasses in South Africa using drones to scan areas from above. The research he has produced is very fascinating. He focused his research on how poachers operate and why they poach in certain areas. The findings he found give a disturbing sense about the scale of elephant poaching that is still taking place around the world despite new policies and regulations. Beale found that carcass density was highest near the rainy season and near water points. He also noted that elephants are usually poached in villages at higher altitudes and average travel costs.
Beale also found that there are some relationships between ranger patrol sites and carcass density. Beale found no evidence of an ecosystem-wide influence of ranger patrol sites on carcass frequency, but found strong evidence that different guard items show contrasting trends with respect to carcasses: some were significantly associated with cadaver clusters, others had the expected negative correlation, and most showed no trend at all (Beale, 2018). This draws attention to the possibility that ranger patrols in remote areas encourage elephant poaching in areas that rangers are familiar with (Zafra-Calvo, 2018). Rangers know a lot of elephants in the areas where they work and could easily give poachers the edge for a percentage of the profit. From data collected with drones, the researchers found that the techniques used by poachers have not improved very drastically over the past decade, as some research suggests, but poachers travel to less populated areas to kill elephants with a lower risk of being caught. The level of poaching has decreased in some areas, but has even worsened in other more rural areas that do not have such extensive systems of government. In addition, responsible reporting of rhino poaching cases will strengthen national and international monitoring of these cases. Arrest, pursue and convict level 3 and 4 criminals, breaking the chain between the level 1 shooter and the level 5 importer, and we will disrupt the criminal syndicates that wipe out the world`s rhinos to the fullest. It could include wildlife tourism or controlled legal wildlife trade (although this is controversial). And that should simply involve asking local people what solutions would work best – whether it`s community involvement in law enforcement or building cultural traditions that condemn theft. There are other more controversial methods that have been used in various African countries. For example, since the introduction of the shoot-to-kill policy in Botswana, the country has seen a decline in the number of poached elephants compared to other African countries that do not have similar policies.
Many countries, such as South Africa, where there are no shoot-to-kill laws, have brought some of their elephants and rhinos to Botswana because they are considered safer there (Mogomotsi, 2017). This anti-poaching method appears to have some impact on poaching, but it creates more problems than it solves by creating « green militarization » (Marijnen, 2018). It seems a bit counterintuitive to kill people you want to prevent from killing other creatures. In this way, a war between humans for elephants arises, which is no different from wars between countries for resources. But what is an appropriate fine? Well, the fine is usually set according to the offense in question. For example, if you get permission to hunt on a farm, but end up killing the wrong kind of money, you can expect a fine of up to 3 times the value of the animal. It should be noted, however, that fines generally depend on the province and frequency of the animal. More worryingly, there have been cases of poaching showing the involvement of police and military personnel. Unfortunately, this type of corruption can have a negative impact on the wealth of wildlife available to the rest of the population, making it harder for law-abiding hunters to operate.