From the top to the bottom, there are members of the force that are fighting to stop the wildlife trade, which are perpetuating it and indeed financially growing rich on the back of it.
Police, prosecutors, airlines and even diplomats are involved in the smuggling of rhino horn in south east asia. The sanctity of the diplomatic bag is incredibly important, however, when it is being used as a way to smuggle animal parts out of the country things need to change.
The Coronavirus is thought to have emerged in one of the wet markets of Wuhan, China. Much of what went on in these markets was never fully legal. Indeed this $13 billion a year trade has often operated in the grey areas of the law.
However, it has become clear that these are actually rather dangerous. It is one thing to enter a wild area to see the animals that live there. However it is something quite different to go in and kill animals to eat. These wild areas often harbour odd viruses or bacteria and by taking animals alive or dead out of these ecosystems you bring out these threats so that we can contract the illness.
In many parts of Africa and Asia and South America poor communities get virtually all their protein from wild mammal species that live nearby. As the human population increases and as people organise themselves to sell excess meat in markets this can become a threat to human life as has been shown through covid 19.
The majority of the Natural World is supported by tourism. As such, the current situation that is sweeping the world is not good.
Corvid 19 is thought to have originated in the wild animal markets of Wuhan, China. Why is this notable? These wild markets keep a huge range of animals, often kept alive in squalid cramped conditions close together.
The rainforests in much of west Africa have been devastated over the last few decades, however in small regions worker saved ecosystems from the chainsaw.
Sapo national park in East Liberia is one of the most important remaining fragments of rainforest in West Africa. However having been expanded only a few years ago the locals are fully behind a further expansion of this important protected area. More than 40% of Africa’s remaining upper Guinea rainforest lies within Liberia and so any increase in the protected land can only be positive.
Several years ago there was significant poaching within the park and the surrounding area. After the clashes with locals the people who ran the park engage properly with the locals and the surrounding area. As in many other parts of Africa, the locals don’t get much benefit from being next to this large tourism destination, in the past this has led to hunting and mining.
As the Education of locals improved the situation and they stopped taking part in these activities that damage the park authorities found that people were coming in from further afield.
A sensible solution was found for this problem. A team of people were employed in the vicinity of each entry point. Their job was to keep an eye out for Hunters and Miners going into the park and make sure that any news got back to the authorities. For this they were paid $50 each month which meant that they no longer needed to hunt themselves to be able to survive.
This solution lead to both the local people having a greater level of financial security and and greater security for the park with the locals invested in the long term pricing of the wildlife that they live alongside. This is a wonderful solution, though probably works better in places like this where the park is remote and a local population is small, while there are other projects like this we should hope that more of them are set up as they are very successful in reducing poaching where they exist.
The fact that the rhino poaching of South Africa has fallen for 5 years in a row is something to celebrate. However, despite this there is a lot that we still need to be concerned about.
In 2019 594 Rhinos were killed within the Kruger National Park by poachers. In 2015 a little over 1300 rhino were lost to poachers, in the same area. As such, cutting the poaching by more than half in the space of only 5 years is impressive ( though, it should be noted that the rise was more rapid than the fall has been), 594 Rhinos killed is still a huge number.
South Africa hosts over 90% of the world’s remaining Rhinos, which means that any poaching here has a large impact on the world’s population. It should be noted that the 594 Rhinos lost last year in South Africa Is the equivalent of 4 times the total world population of Sumatra and Java Rhinos that remain.
The British government introduced a law which banned the sale of Ivory whether new or antique, as you can imagine this this is not liked by antique dealers as it makes it very hard if not impossible to sell any item that has ivory in it.
This group of Southern African countries are once again raising the prospect of them selling the ivory that they have accumulated over the years. In the majority of African countries that have wild elephants it is standard practice when Game Wardens come across dead elephants to remove the tusks. This is because it has been clearly shown that feeding the demand for ivory is a very strong way of increasing demand and to avoid people going looking for dead animals the tusks must be removed.
As is well known globally, the Kruger National Park in South Africa has had a very serious problem with rhino poaching over the last decade or so. A significant proportion of the remaining wild white rhinos live with in the Kruger so it is not a surprise that this is where much of the white rhino poaching has gone on.
At the same time, there has been a significant issue of man-eating lions within the Kruger National Park.