There are many animals that are now under threat of becoming extinct. They are protected through organizations such as the World Wild Life fund. The most obvious question has got to be why poachers continue to hunt them when they know that these animals are protected by law. The most obvious answer is that they are rewarded with vast sums of money for the animals. This is obvious but what is really interesting is what the dead animals are being targeted for.
Why does man go to such great trouble in order to kill them?
Many animals are killed for man’s desire for ivory. The elephant, the walrus and the hippopotamus are all targeted for their ivory tusks. In certain parts of the world the ivory is seen as having medicinal purposes as well as making beautiful ornaments.
Ivory is worth between 1000 and 1500 dollars per kilogram and considering an average elephant’s tusks weigh 10 kg each it is easy to see the attraction of hunting the animals. There are many countries who are trying to protect their elephants from the poachers but when the demand is so high for ivory, it is very difficult to protect the elephants all of the time. Man’s desire to satisfy their vanity is often seen by their desire to wear the furs of animals. However, there is a huge difference between wearing a wooly jumper in winter time and having a jacket made from the skin of an endangered species.
The nature of clothing means that people are not able to wear articles of animals that have been hunted illegally. The wearing of a coat made out of the skin of an endangered species would advertise the fact that the wearer had illegally purchased such an item and would make them open to prosecution.
There are certain goods that have been made from crocodile leather, such as belts and shoes. Their meat is even sold in markets in certain parts of the world. While this may upset some people, it is worth remembering that the crocodile is not endangered so morally it is as right as using the leather from western farmed cows. There are items that can be bought in some parts of the world yet are illegal in other countries. There are 170 countries around the world who have signed up to the treaty CITES which outlaws products that have come from rare wildlife and plants.
Sometimes it is impossible to know whether a product that is being purchased comes from an endangered species. A can of tuna does not specify how and where the fish was caught. Certain species such as the three Bluefin species, are now endangered due to overfishing yet there are others where their stocks are plentiful.
Not even the biggest of giants are safe from this threat – as lovely and fascinating the whale are, they are still being driven to extinction by the hunters. Their numbers are dwindling because the whale meet is regarded as a delicacy by some. And while not yet added to endangered species’ list, it would still be a good idea to help these gentle giants out. Another issue is that certain fish became endangered due to overfishing that after a number of years of fishing restrictions their numbers recover and then it is ok for them to be eaten. The North Atlantic Cod is a good example where for a number of years the numbers became critically low but in recent times they have recovered in numbers.
The problem with having blanket laws covering endangered species is that it affects indigenous populations around the world who have relied on farming these animals for every day survival. Their practices have never endangered any species, but the activities of other people and intensive hunting, sees the indigenous people being restricted by the same laws. In order to protect animals successfully these laws need to be implemented carefully.