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Rare Meat MAG
Imagine walking in the African savannah. You can see for miles, scanning the wilderness with your seven-foot neck. Yes, you are a giraffe. Then you stumble on a strange object that’s sharp. Soon you are surrounded by an invisible monster and are covered in cuts and gashes. You are dying. Minutes before you die, humans approach you with knives, axes, and trucks. Then, all is dark.
So, what is poaching? It is the illegal hunting of wildlife and it is becoming an increasing problem across the world, but it is most troubling in Africa and Asia. Tigers are sent to meat markets; elephants are brutally massacred for ivory; cheetahs and leopards are slaughtered for crossing farmland. More and more animals are becoming extinct as a result. The scariest fact is that no one knows the number of animals killed by poachers each year.
Why would anyone do this? Most poachers sell these animals for profit; others do it because some animal parts are believed to be medicinal, especially in Asia. It’s true that most poachers are criminals, in it just for the money, but in some cases, people poach as a matter of survival.
Poaching can permanently destroy an environment by eliminating just one species. In Brazil, for example, somewhere between nine million and 23 million reptiles, mammals, an birds are killed every year. And that’s just in one country! In Asia, tigers are dying at increasing rates for their purported medicinal value. In Sumatra, the already-endangered Sumatran elephant might be extinct in 50 years because of the demand for its ivory.
The pet industry is a growing problem as well. In Indonesia, baby orangutans are taken from their mothers to be sold as pets, and the mothers are then killed. Reptiles around the world are trapped, shipped, and sold as pets. Less than 10 percent of the animals that are illegally shipped reach their destination alive.
In Asia, turtle, tiger, monkey, and bat are consumed as delicacies and are sold in markets. Taiwan is one of the leading countries in the sale of illegally poached animals. It is believed that only one and a half million people there trade animals legally; the rest are illegal. Unfortunately, for some, poaching is necessary because they don’t have the money to support their families.
Poaching is also a big problem for hunters because poachers eliminate almost all the fish and game in an area. Poachers not only hunt the animals that are considered game, like deer and pheasants, but they also target endangered wildlife. There needs to be an end to this massacring.
Many countries are trying to stop poaching. Some have begun to succeed by building wildlife refuges and enforcing the law. Others have failed miserably. In many Asian countries, laws and regulations created a decade ago are just beginning to be enforced.
Wildlife parks and refuges, like Kruger Park in South Africa, are the most helpful method against poaching. These parks contain thousands of acres for animals to roam. Many are left alone and are thriving. But there are still poachers who break into the parks.
In Asia, animal-rights activists have set up peaceful demonstrations in front of restaurants to protest serving endangered animals. These protests have convinced many restaurants to end this practice.
You can help end poaching. One way is to learn to recognize poaching in your state. You can contact your local wildlife official if you suspect illegal activity. Talk to others about how much animals mean to our environment. Explain the negative effects poaching has on the world. You can demand more enforcement of local fish and game laws and regulations. You can encourage your school to include information on the dangers of poaching. You can ask your local newspaper or television station to include programs on poaching. You can refuse to buy products that you suspect have been killed illegally.
Now imagine again what it would be like to look out onto a savannah plain when poaching has been eliminated. You would see hundreds of thousands of animals. Mothers nursing their young, males fighting for territory, and families resting to escape the heat. There would be no snares at farmland boundaries, no guns in the hands of criminals, and game officials would be patrolling the area. Finally life would be as it should be.