Which animals are easiest to hunt?
Poaching - the great suffering of animals
The hunt for wildlife in many countries in Africa, Asia and South America is dramatic. Chimpanzee meat as a delicacy, big cat fur and reptile skin as a luxury item, tiger bones and ground horn for health, ivory as a sign of prosperity: the demand for the body parts of many animal species is huge, especially among customers in Asia. No wonder criminal traders make millions and don't care whether the animals they kill are strictly protected. Elephants and rhinos are particularly badly off.
Why are elephants and rhinos in particular hunted?
Because the tusks and the horn bring so much money to the dealers due to the great demand.
A souvenir shop in the middle of Beijing: Carved warriors, bracelets and rings, chess sets, letter openers, stamps and bowls, elephant figures in various sizes - you can even buy carved tusks in their original format there. And everything is made of ivory.
Ivory is extremely popular in China, especially with more and more young, well-paid people. This is why by far the largest proportion of poached elephant tusks end up in Chinese markets. And as demand increases, more and more elephants are dying.
The horn, from which the rhinos owe their name, is said to have miraculous powers. The Vietnamese and Chinese in particular believe in this and are willing to pay a fortune for the powdered horn. It's supposedly supposed to lower a fever, cure headaches, and even cancer. None of this is true: you can just as easily bite your fingernails, because the horn is made of exactly the same material!
How much money is paid for ivory and horn?
Rhino powder and ivory objects should show others: Look, I have money! Because one gram of rhinoceros powder costs more than one gram of cocaine on the black market: around 60 euros. For a single horn weighing an average of four kilos, around 240,000 euros are paid.
Ivory is traded for up to 3,900 euros for a kilo in Chinese markets.
How does the poaching business work?
The illegal ivory and rhinoceros trade is in the hands of organized crime gangs. Contraband is often hidden in containers that also contain legal goods. She then goes to China, Vietnam or Thailand by ship or plane. With African ivory alone, smugglers on Asian markets earn around 150 million euros a year. That is what the International Police Agency Interpol found out. The poachers in Africa and Asia who are hired by the gangs get only part of it. They hunt and kill mostly out of poverty. However, more and more elephants and rhinos are being shot from helicopters. This means that well-equipped poachers are also at work - often commissioned and covered by corrupt officials.
Is the ivory and horn trade banned everywhere?
The so-called Washington Convention on Endangered Species (WA) has existed since 1973, which regulates international trade in endangered species of wild animals and plants. According to this, the import and export of threatened species is either prohibited or only permitted to a very limited extent.
The ivory trade was banned worldwide in 1989. The strict ban was later relaxed for some countries in southern Africa because there are more elephants again; however, the dealers need permits from the authorities. The trade in rhinoceros horn is still prohibited worldwide.
Which, however, does not deter the criminal gangs. Because the controls have also been too lax so far.
What is being done about poaching?
Many countries are trying to better protect endangered animal species - national parks and protected areas should also help. However, individual states, especially in Africa, are overwhelmed with surveillance. Because the poverty is too great and the dealer mafia too well organized. That is why the countries of the world have decided to work with Africa. Interpol has already developed a strategy to support the African countries in their fight against the ivory trade.
Are there any successes?
Yes. Interpol officials have stepped up their controls. In 2013, for example, they confiscated a total of 41.6 tons of ivory from African ports. It was poached in Tanzania and should be shipped from there to Asia.
It is now also possible to determine the exact origin of the ivory: DNA tests can be used to determine which elephant the tusks belonged to. This makes it easier to catch poachers.
And now even in Germany search dogs are being trained to track down rhinoceros horn, ivory and weapons. ARD television reported about it: Reporters accompanied the Belgian shepherd dog Shaya from Frankfurt to South Africa, where he was helping a ranger to track poachers.
Hope for the last of their kind
For around 60 million years, elephants and rhinos have survived all dangers and disasters on earth. All species are now endangered or threatened with extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN, which also publishes the Red List of Threatened Species, comes up with the following population figures after counts and estimates:
|Northern white rhinoceros||2 animals - acutely threatened with extinction|
|Southern white rhinoceros||20,000 animals - endangered|
|Black rhinoceros||4,000 animals - critically endangered|
|Indian rhinoceros||2,750 animals - critically endangered|
|Java rhinoceros||50 animals - critically endangered|
|Sumatran rhinoceros||up to 200 animals - critically endangered|
|Savanna elephant||maximum 660,000 animals - endangered|
|Forest elephant||120,000 animals - endangered|
|Asian elephant||maximum 50,000 animals - endangered|
What can I do?
It is important that everyone knows that elephants and rhinos are killed for ivory and horn powder. And that these animal species will become extinct if poaching is not stopped. In China, for example, many people have no idea of animal suffering. That is why we and other nature conservation organizations petition the responsible governments.
The decision of the Chinese government in February 2015 shows that global protests are helping: China initially banned the import of ivory for one year. However, there is a catch: Hong Kong should be excluded. But that's where most of the illegal ivory ends up. That is why we continue with our actions.
- Download our signature lists and collect signatures yourself.
- Tell others what you know about elephants and rhinos and poaching (see our animal portraits for more information.)
- Ask your teachers if you can cover the topic in class. You will receive suggestions and a lot of information by email: [email protected]
- We have declared 2015 the year of the elephants. Sign up for our newsletter to be informed about further promotions.
Date: 05/04/2015Last updated: March 13, 2021
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