IMPACT OF POACHING
We are Experiencing the Sixth Mass Extinction
“As the global human population increases, and because illegal wildlife trade is so financially lucrative, demand for wildlife and their parts has greatly increased, leading many species to become threatened or endangered.
Wildlife poaching has grave consequences for targeted species and their habitats. Besides, it has clear environmental implications, which illustrate how our environment is connected to our well-being and economy, as this illegal activity negatively affects ecosystems, our health and prosperity of local communities.
It is important to know that the consequences to wildlife are not only devastating; they are also pervasive.
In Africa, illegal poaching has led to the extinction of wild rhinoceros in Mozambique. And many other regions across the continent have witnessed a drop by 97 percent in rhino populations just over the last 100 years.
A similar story emerges in Asia with tigers, a species that was commonly found across most of the continent. Sadly, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), numbers of these beautiful animals have shrunk so much that they can be now found living on less than six percent of their historical range.”
“In economic terms, the extinction of a species can have a negative effect on local tourism. The area not only becomes less attractive to potential tourists, but it also means that there is an increased chance of “tourist boycott.” A boycott could have a detrimental effect on a local economy since restaurants, hotels, rentals, and other attractions would suffer great losses in revenue.
If Africa were to lose its iconic species, this would in turn create a huge financial impact on the continent, most likely resulting in job losses particularly in the tourism industry which currently employs around 8 million people.
Beyond the environment and the economy, poaching animals can have severe consequences on communities. Not only does it threaten traditional ways of living but it also relies on profiting from state weaknesses and corruption.
This creates an inherent interest among poachers and criminals in actively undermining state economic development – a particular problem in a number of already vulnerable countries in the developing world.”
Example: Economic consequences of poaching African elephants:
The current elephant poaching crisis costs African countries around USD $25 million annually in lost tourism revenue.
Research shows that tourism revenue lost to the current poaching crisis exceeds the anti-poaching costs necessary to stop the decline of elephants, signaling strong economic incentive for countries to protect elephant populations.
“For example, for every dollar invested in protecting elephants in East Africa, you get about $1.78 back. That's a great deal”, said Dr. Brendan Fisher, an economist at University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.”
“The impact poaching may have on human health is not widely discussed: however, it can be significant and the emergence of numerous zoonotic diseases has been linked directly to wildlife crime. The outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong has been traced to the human contact with and consumption of poached meat available on black wildlife markets. Ebola, one of the world’s most horrific diseases, has had outbreaks in Africa directly linked to the poaching and consumption of primates. Further, bird flu (H5N1), Monkey Pox, and Heartwater Disease are additional examples of diseases directly facilitated by the illegal wildlife trade. Indeed, according to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), 75% of diseases reach humans through animals: a fact made more worrying because the illegal entry routes used by smugglers bringing exotic wildlife and their parts into international markets are unable to be effectively monitored, let alone quarantined and controlled.”
Source: Why is poaching such a problem? | theproblemofpoaching
The emergence of nearly uncontrollable zoonotic diseases, like COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from Bat to Civets), a COVID related virus, Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) from Bats to Camels), Ebola, and HIV are transferred from animals to humans
Sources of transfer from animal to human
Bushmeat- Infected meat from poached wildlife eaten by indigenous human populations
Animal wet markets- infected uninspected, uncontrolled wildlife sold in urban wet markets and eaten by local human population
Bats are a reservoir for COVID related strains of viruses such as SARS, MERS, COV-2, COVID-19
“The environmental impacts of poaching are sometimes clearly visible and sometimes much harder to identify, at least in the short term. The most obvious impact is a depletion in the number of wildlife present in a given area. The defaunation of an area due to poaching flows from the immediate impact of killing an existing animal, the medium-term effect of reducing breeding numbers and hence the rate of reproduction, and the long-term effects of thinning the gene pool and the symbiotic- and often irreversible – impact this has on overall biodiversity.
This is not an abstract or ‘maybe one day’ problem. Just over a century ago there were over one million rhinoceros in Africa; now, poaching has directly led to the extinction of wild rhinoceros in Mozambique, most of western Africa, and many other regions across the continent. According to most reports, the number of wild rhinos left in Africa hovers around 22-25,000 – that’s a reduction of around 97% over the last century. Further, according to the WWF, tigers, which could once be found across almost the whole of Asia, have had their wild range decreased by 93% over the last 100 years, and have suffered a numerical decline of 97%.
Additional to the drop of animal populations, poaching affects ecosystems. Natural ecosystems often develop a rather delicate balance between different types of fauna and their local habitat. Because of this, in terms of cause/effect the depletion of one species is analytically bound to the effects this has on other species. For example, the removal of predatory animals can result in an over-abundance of prey animals resulting in the destabilization and decline of vegetation; the decline of prey animals can lead to drops in predator numbers because of a reduction in food supply. Further, certain species are considered ‘keystone’ species in their local environment. For example, many species of animal – such as elephant – are responsible for the distribution of plant seeds and hence a local extinction of elephant has a heavy consequence for local vegetation. These changes in vegetation affect other animals along the food chain, and the circle continues.”
The defaunation of an area due to poaching flows from the immediate impact of killing an existing animal, the medium-term effect of reducing breeding numbers and hence the rate of reproduction, and the long-term effects of thinning the gene pool and the symbiotic- and often irreversible – impact this has on overall biodiversity.
Species that are victims of poaching are greatly threatened by extinction. When just one species becomes extinct, especially if it is a keystone species within the ecosystem, the balance of the ecosystem is thrown off. The loss of one species can have a chain reaction, leading to the loss of other plants and animals or even the collapse of the entire ecosystem.
The illegal hunting and harvesting of animals are the second biggest direct threat to species after habitat destruction. It can have a devastating effect on the individual species and on entire ecosystems as well as on local communities. Wild animals are being poached on a massive scale, with millions of individual animals of thousands of species worldwide killed or captured from their native habitats.
Loss of Keystone species within an ecosystem can cause the entire ecosystem to weaken or even collapse. Keystone species may be in the middle or the top of the food chain. They are unique and not easily replaced.