A Teacher’s Take on Ending Poaching

As a teacher in special education, if there’s one thing I know well, it’s PBIS: Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.

The idea of PBIS is replacing punishment-based strategies (reprimands, loss of privileges) with more positive student support (rewards, incentives). In other words: “After you finish your work, you can have recess” instead of “Finish your work or you will stay inside.”

Technically the end is the same, but the approach is more inspiring. Rewards are more motivating than punishment is a deterrent.

Dangling the Carrot

dangling carrot

Poaching can be looked at much the same way. Save the animals, earn a job (via tour guide, hotel/camp employee, driver, etc). See the benefits of the wildlife in your backyard and take advantage of preserving it.

The perfect example of positivity and motivation is in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld Rhino Trust. They provide financial support to schools in the community. The catch is if area poaching is on the increase, the funds get pulled to apply toward extra anti-poaching measures instead. As long as poaching is down, the schools reap the benefit. This program is supported by community pressure-no one wants to be the poacher on the receiving end of village scorn when the children are deprived of education. (See previous post: Zimbabwe Leads the Way).

Another success story is the Amnesty Scheme in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Congo. Poachers are asked to turn themselves in. Why would they do such a thing? For the chance to apply for a job as a park ranger. This has proven to be a winning situation all around; poaching is lessened,  rangers employed, and intel given and acted on resulting in arrests. (See previous post: Second Chances: Success in the Congo).

Sustainable Solution

Bullets and jail time are definite and necessary deterrents. There must be consequences for the decimation of elephants and rhinos. “Shoot to kill” policies and harsh legal penalties demonstrate a country’s strength, conviction and determination to end poaching.

BUT reward and incentive is more sustaining. Showing people what animals can mean to their culture, their livelihood, their families-THIS is what will carry over and have lasting effects. Making money off wildLIFE as opposed to a once off fee for their death is the way toward the preservation of Africa’s elephants and rhinos.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports-it works for kids AND adults.


Rhino Girl








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