Posts Tagged With: poverty

For some, poaching is a “second job”

In a 2015 study of admitted poachers in the largest park in Tanzania, 4 out of 5 admitted to poaching for food or income. But not all of them poached due to extreme poverty (in need of food and shelter) .  For many it was a means of supplemental  income. In fact only 8% used poaching as their only source of income. by Conservation and Society

                                                                                                                   Out of 171 poachers, 60 had some form of employment.

The poachers with other means of income were using poaching as a means to advance their families out of day to day living.

“While our poachers and their households had adequate food and shelter, most lacked abilities to send children to school, or advance themselves in any meaningful way,” said Eli Knapp, lead author of the study.

 

This changes the popular assumption that people only poach out of absolute need.

For more on the study by Conservation and Society, see: Probing Rural Poachers in Africa: why do they poach?

Ruaha National Park, largest park in Tanzania, photo: Lonely Planet

 

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Got 99 Problems but the Rhino Ain’t One

beautifulafricawildanimalspets.com rhinos

As rhino activists hell-bent on their survival, it’s difficult to understand that out of all countries on the Earth, why South Africa isn’t more involved in their salvation? The majority of all rhinos survive there, so it would seem logical for them to be more proactive.

But, looking more closely at the country and government itself, they are plagued with pressing issues.

HIV/AIDS

As with many African countries AIDS is a perpetual concern. The SA HIV/AIDS rate is at 17.8% (one of the highest in the world) 2 million South Africans have been killed by it.

aids sa graph 2014

                                                           

Education

The country has a two-tiered education system. There seem to be few good schools; and those are fiercely competitive and expensive, assuring only the wealthier children a good education.

In 2013 although 78% of public school students passed their final, 31% had grades good enough to qualify for universities. The rest are faced with an uncertain future as unemployment runs high.

Unemployment

The current rate of joblessness stands at 24%. Youth unemployment (under 25) stands at a staggering 65%!

A decade ago, a person with a high school degree had a 50 percent chance of getting a job. Today, that figure is 30 percent. According to South Africa’s Labour Force Survey, for the last quarter of 2013, two-thirds of all unemployed South Africans were under the age of 35.

SA unemployment

SA’s unemployed look for jobs.

Poverty

From the crisis of unemployment and education, poverty is born. The division between rich and poor is one of the widest in the world. Although SA is not as stricken as many African countries, 4 million people are living at or below the poverty line.

Crime

The cities of Maseru and Cape Town have the distinction of being on the 10 cities with the highest murder rates list.

The overall murder rate in the nation is 31.9 per 100,000 people, 30 times that of Great Britain. For police it’s 51 out of 100,000. For farmers, who are overwhelmingly white, the rate soars to 99 out 100,000.

And that is part of another issue-the racial divide. The attacks on South African farmers make it twice as dangerous to be a farmer than a police officer. While the government has argued that there is no evidence of organised attacks, white farmers believe these attacks are evidence of a campaign to drive them off their land.

Zuma/Political Corruption

The extent of all of these economic and human issues, as with any country, is controlled by its leadership. There is no Mandela in South Africa. There is only Jacob Zuma.

zuma and wife in dc

Zuma with one of his wives in front of the White House for the US Africa Leaders Summit.

Zuma is a president who seemingly spends more time and money on his own interests and family than on the people of the country. Suspicions are he has spent tax payer money on his private home improvements and additions, totalling approximately $23 million dollars.

He has fanned the flames of racial division, and has had charges of corruption, fraud, rape and unethical conduct brought against him. They all seem to eventually get dropped. Yet the level of distrust remains.  Is it any wonder with a man whose middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “the one who laughs while he endangers you”?

Zuma recently told a US audience that Israel and Palestine should take advice from South Africa about resolving their violent conflict. Although at rally parties he sings and dances to his signature song, “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami,” or “Bring Me My Machine Gun.”

And in the middle of it all-THIS is where our rhino resides.

sabi sabi rhino

Although there is always hope for change, let’s face it- our rhino is NOT the priority to the SA government. It is not something South Africa can tackle on it’s own. It will take a global effort to fight and win this war.

Petition: President Zuma & Minister Molewa-Stop all hunting of Kruger Nat Parks Big Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Many Faces of Poaching

poacher arrested with bush meat

Poacher arrested with bush meat.

The Poacher:

The poor man living in a hut with a pregnant wife and 3 skeletal children. One perhaps with a tear running down a sunken cheek, the wife begging the husband to find them enough for a meal. Finally, in exasperation the man reluctantly sets off on a dangerous, one-time mission to take part in killing an elephant or rhino. The few dollars will feed his hungry family for a week (if he makes it back alive).

Is this what you imagine when you think of a poacher?

Think again. Although  poverty is one aspect of poaching and can be a reason, it does not account for all of it. In fact, wealth is the driving force behind the most  destructive killings: mainly  our elephants and rhinos.

There are two types of poachers:

1) Subsistence Poachers – they target small game, have low technology, and hunt for food.
2) Commercial Poachers – they operate with organized groups for rare animals (elephants/rhinos) and  utilize advanced technology.

game farmers in sa part of rhino poaching ring

S.A. Game farmers convicted in rhino poaching ring.

Individuals who poach in poor communities are doing it for one of two reasons. Either they need the meat, in which case it is usually smaller animals who typically do not have as much effect on the ecosystem, as it is usually less often. Or there is a wealthy source seeking parts from an animal, such as the ivory of elephants or horn of rhino, and this has a more devastating impact on the environment.  In the second case, obviously without the demand, there would be no poaching.

In 2012, the wildlife monitoring network Traffic, issued a report showing  a direct correlation between the rising income in Vietnam and the rising demand for ivory and horn. In addition as a use for “medicinal cures”, it has become the status symbol of the elite in Vietnamese society, used during business deals and social gatherings, the rhino horn is ground to a powder, mixed with water and drunk.

Chumlong Lemtongthai

Chumlong Lemtonthai, convicted rhino poaching ringleader

With horn and ivory worth their weight in gold, it is the prized commodity taken and sold by everyone who can get their filthy hands on it.

So while the rich business men are vying for ego boosts in Vietnam, there are poaching syndicates taking advantage and making this a business of their own. These syndicates are  equipped  above and beyond the occasional villager poaching for his family, they have militia training, equipment and resources at their disposal.

seleka rebels in CAR

Seleka rebels: The CAR president has ordered the dissolution of the group.

Some of these groups are involved with  organized terrorist groups such as Somalia’s Al-Shabab, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Darfur’s Janjaweed.  One group in Sudan, the  Séléka rebel coalition  is suspected of the 2013 mass slaughter of 26 elephants at the Dzanga-Ndoki national park in the CAR. The previous year, the same group was responsible for 300 elephant deaths.

In addition to subsistence and commercial poaching, in a 2013 study done by Evidence on Demand, the lines sometimes become blurred into what they term as a hybrid poacher.

For example: the rise in commercial hunting for bushmeat shows how traditional subsistence poaching has been transformed in response to the arrival of logging companies in remote forests where a workforce has to be fed. Likewise, the Chinese construction camps who allegedly seek ivory, and possibly bushmeat would fall into that category.

Sophistication, technology, and an expanding market  make for ambitious and deadly modern-day poachers. But poaching has no ethnicity, age or economic barriers. It is an equal opportunity evil in which the end is always the same. With 96 elephants and nearly 3 rhino a day being slaughtered, it hardly matters WHO is killing them, just that they are.

your greed my extinction

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Kruger Park: the Rhino Poaching Hotspot

There have been  227 rhinos poached already in 2013. Of those, 146 have been in Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserve in Africa. Located  in eastern South Africa, it is home to all of the Big 5 game (rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalo, and leopard).

To combat poaching the Park
*employs 650 anti-poaching unit rangers
*has borrowed 2 drones
*utilizes 2 helicopters
*has automated movement sensors along Mozambique
*has a specialized canine unit

Yet with 9 main gates in a 7580 sq mi area, which is an area slightly smaller than New Jersey, poaching is rampant. They are losing more rhino than any other location in Africa; an average of 2 a day in the Park.

kruger mapThe Park is surrounded by countries in which poverty and unemployment are both endemic. Mozambique  is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries with 59% of the people living below the poverty line; while Zimbabwe, suffering from a shrinking economy and hyper inflation, has the world’s largest unemployment rate at 95%, and 80%  living below  poverty. Limpopo is fairing only slightly better, but is still one of the poorest areas in South Africa, especially in rural areas.

So is it any wonder the rhino are being stalked like a starving lion after a gazelle? With one horn worth a few hundred (just a fraction of the market value) to the poacher, he can feed his family and then some. That one rhino life is worth less than its horn to them.

Over the last 5 years, authorities have killed 279 Mozambicans involved in illegal rhino hunting. 300 more were detained for poaching during that time. For the Mozambique government its a monstrous problem, especially because of the involvement of members of its own defense and security forces.

Tragically for the rhino, where it lives is why it’s being killed. Economics. Poor men committing the murder out of necessity to fuel the greed of the middle man (criminal syndicate) to supply the ignorant (Asian market); the perfect storm that will spell the extinction of the species if we cannot stop it.

2 rhinos

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