Poaching: An Account of Territorial Invasion

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Nayab talks about the effect of poaching on pangolins and rhinos

The black market – a hidden economy, where everything and everyone has a price tag. Because, unfortunately, there is a buyer for everything. It is a desperate market to make fast money at the cost of attacking and exploiting the weakest, serving the rich, with zero remorse. From drugs and gold to pharmaceuticals, from weapons to humans and their body parts and even exotic animals.

While all of these are severely problematic, the illegal trade of rare exotic animals has been particularly bothering me for a while, because the ignorance of these traders and poachers is leading to the torture of these animals, resulting in the extinction of entire species. The trade of exotic animals generates billions of dollars annually; alligators, snakes, lions, rhinos and pangolins are just a few of the many exotic animals that are trafficked across the world for their valuable body parts or to be owned as pets. Empathy is becoming eroded at the expense of money-making. We are becoming more and more money-hungry, to the point where we are blind to the suffering of the animals and the impact our actions have on our ecosystem.

Pangolins – the scaly animal also known as the modern-day dinosaur – is one of the most trafficked species, mainly for its scales and their meat. There is now a very real chance that this creature will become extinct. There is a total of 8 species of pangolins, 4 out of which are found in Africa. Known for their nocturnal nature, pangolins are shy, and it is a shame that humans have invaded their natural habitats, disturbed them, hunted them down and continue to do so.

The fact that pangolins are protected under an international treaty does not stop poachers from getting their hands on them. As they are smuggled for both their scales and meat, scales that are used for traditional medicines and their meat is sold to restaurants which then sell them for a whopping $600-$1000. And yet, despite being a protected animal, it remains one of the most trafficked mammals worldwide. Tons of pangolin scales are illegally transported to buyers for millions of dollars. And these poachers seem to completely disregard their disruption to our ecosystem. All because, unfortunately, they cannot seem to look past the bundles of money.

Another animal that has been particularly targeted by poachers is the rhinoceros. The images online of these giant animals, collapsed on the ground, utterly defeated, utterly betrayed, at the hands of their only predators (humans), with their horns stolen from them ruthlessly, is outrageous, to say the least. The rhinos’ most valuable body part is its horn, which has a huge market in East Asia and Vietnam for traditional medicines, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this belief. Not only that, but it has also become a status of symbol for some. For the rhino, the horn is a protection in the wild, but for man, the horn is as valuable as gold, and while the horn can grow back in a few years, it is still a brutal procedure for the animal, as it is always left to die with a massive hole in his head.

However, this is a harsh reality that not everyone is aware of. These people are constantly invading the territories of these animals with the sole purpose of attacking them, separating them from their world into one that is unknown to them, one that is greedy, one that is insensitive, taking them into the dark, shady and selfish world of the black market. And that is the world you and I happen to live in.

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