When you hear the word ‘poacher’, images of ruthless men, slaughtering elephants and rhinoceros and waving bloody tusks and horns, tend to pop into your head. However, what does it mean to poach?
Britannica defines poaching as “in law, the illegal shooting, trapping, or taking of game, fish, or plants from private property or from a place where such practices are specially reserved or forbidden.”
Much of the world’s illegal poaching of animals is carried out by organised crime syndicates, who have the funding to invest in technology and weaponry. This affords them the opportunity to hunt larger animals, and lowers the chances of them being caught. They target animals whose parts are very lucrative on the black market, making them substantial amounts of money. These syndicates often have links to drugs, human trafficking, arms dealing, and terrorism. It is estimated that the wildlife trade brings in billions of dollars annually in illegal revenue.
What drives the price of these illicit animal products?
Alongside elephants and rhinos, there are several other animals that really strike a chord with conservationists, since they are threatened with extinction, mainly from the poaching industry. Gorillas, lemurs, pangolins and tigers are also on the fast track to disappearing from our world. Worryingly, only one of the aforementioned animals is not being targeted in Africa. In fact, over half the world’s poaching efforts occur in African territories.
Marine life is far from safe, and esteemed sea turtles are under threat. You might be asking yourself “why are sea turtles poached?”. The beautiful hawksbill turtle’s unique shell is sought after for making ‘tortoiseshell’ ornaments, jewellery, and instruments, leading this ill-fated animal to a status of being critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN. And it’s not just the hawksbill. Other turtles are targeted and parts of their body are used to make leather, perfume and cosmetics.
Here in Mozambique, turtles are constantly under threat from poachers.
Five of the seven sea turtle species found globally occur in Mozambique waters, and there are identified nesting sites along the coastline. Each of these turtles has a status of either Critically Endangered or Endangered by the IUCN. All turtle species are vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts, throughout all stages of their life, from nesting to adulthood. Poaching sea turtle eggs is still prevalent around the nesting hotspots of the coastline, where the egg-la