By Helena Savage
March 20, 2018: This is the day Sudan, the last northern male white rhino on earth died at his home at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Although Sudan did not suffer from the violence of poaching himself, he was forced into captivity as a young calf. Similar to the mistreatment of these creatures, they are at serious risk for extinction because of past poaching. “Northern white rhinos used to be found in an area spanning Uganda, Chad, southwestern Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Eyder Peralta with NPR news. “Some 2,000 existed in 1960, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but war and the poaching that funded the fighting drove them to extinction in the wild.”
If you are unfamiliar with the disturbingly unethical crimes of animal poaching, they pose one of the largest threats to the entire wildlife population. Until all nations unite and can punish all those who poach and illegally traffic these animals simply for items such as ivory, skins, and furs, their beauty will soon cease to exist on all wild terrains.
Sadly, stories like those of the northern white rhinos are all too common. There are only 3, 890 tigers, fewer than 100,000 giraffes, fewer than 50,000 elephants, ONLY 84 amur leopards (due to their beautiful coats), and around 20,000 lions left on earth in 2018. Over half of these population declines are due to poaching in primarily Africa and India. The whole idea of poaching is to obtain one part of an animal, and leave the rest die for pure money benefit. This process is nothing but sinister and pure evil.
A similar tactic behind animal poaching is baiting the animal. In 2016, dentist Dr. Walter J. Palmer from Minnesota went to Africa on a poaching trip. Palmer “did not have a permit or quota to kill the lion,” making this a completely illegal crime, according to National Geographic. The dentist went to the refuge where the world-known lion Cecil lived, baited him off the protected grounds, and ruthlessly shot and killed this poor lion.
Do you know the punishment and jail time he was given after this crime? Zero, nothing. He was not even prosecuted. Cecil was killed illegally due to poaching. Needless to say, there are laws in place, but I get the impression that some particular people in the American government do not care and applaud this merciless poaching. For starters, it is known that “The president’s sons, Donald Jr and Eric, frequently hunt in Africa,” according to The Guardian. Therefore, last March when Donald Trump announced he would allow the importation of ivory goods from “Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia had already drawn global criticism,” said Mike Pflanz with Independent, it came without shock. Ironic is the perfect word to describe this action, as Botswana’s President Khama released this statement according to The Guardian: “‘I want to take this chance to condemn in the strongest possible terms the shocking decision taken by the Trump administration…[to] consider issuing permits to import certain elephant trophies from six African countries.’”
The fact that America is associated with the evil act of animal poaching is almost too much for me to fathom, as we have seen what these animals endure after they are left to die once the poachers take what they want from the creature. Although there are rangers, who we commend for their bravery, they cannot always be there to defend all animals from the wrath of the violent and horrific crimes of animal poaching.
I cannot stand the thought of an innocent Rhino grazing in a field, only to be stunned by death as their life is slowly torn away at the price of their horn. Or the idea of an elephant being left without its tusks merely for monetary value. But I ask you what is more important, the life of beautiful mysterious animal native to only a few parts of the world, or a trophy of ivory, a rug of tiger skin, or the “trophy” of a Rhino’s horn. Is it really worth the sufferance and pain to simply display a fancy object?
The issue with animal poaching and illegal trafficking is most supremely the ruthless killings of wildlife, but also the number of poachers who do not get punished. Although this year, the protective rangers who patrol these conservancies who have caught and stopped some poachers for their illegal and inhumane actions.
In the end, will we bring down the iron fist onto these poachers who continue to taint earth with the poison of inhumanity, or will we sit back and allow the last remaining beauties of the wild drift away into nothing?