Animal Poaching is taking a toll on population rates


The diagram shows a rough estimate of the population of some of the most commonly poached animals.

Hallie Spielman, Distribution Director

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, poaching is defined as “to trespass for the purpose of stealing game.” Poaching occurs because people believe in using the animal’s horns, tusks, etc. for medicinal purposes or for decoration. Although many species of endangered or vulnerable species are living in conservancies, population rates are still dropping.

Since 2016, giraffes have been labeled as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, which is a list of the “global conservation status of biological species”.

It is not well-known that giraffes are being poached compared to the knowledge of elephant and rhino poaching. However, pangolins face larger challengers than giraffes. Half of the pangolin family is considered to be endangered while the remaining half is considered to be vulnerable.

Thanks to poaching, earlier this year, the final male Northern White Rhino died, leaving behind the only two Northern White Rhinos left on Earth, who are both females. The male rhino known as Sudan, was watched by a team of veterinarians, conservationists and armed guards. Sudan and his mates are critically endangered animals. The rhino had been suffering since earlier in the year, and after developing an infection on his back leg along with other complications, the conservancy decided to euthanize him.

Conservancies are starting to utilize trained dogs to increase protection for the conservancies’ resident animals. A notable conservancy preparing to use dogs for protection is the Rhino Conservation Botswana. The conservancy will be receiving two exceptionally trained dogs during the summer.

The Belgian shepherds (referred to as malinois) will be known as “Rhino Guardians” and work alongside with teams of people monitoring the rhinos and the Botswana government’s Anti-Poaching Unit.

Malinois are “intelligent, loyal, agile, sturdy and equally skilled at tracking, detecting, guarding and apprehending,” which makes this specific breed of dog perfect for protecting animals from poachers.

In Oct. 2016, another malinois, named Arrow, was trained for the same purpose as the two headed towards Botswana. Arrow, however, is a skydiving anti-poaching malinois. His skydiving skills allow both Arrow and his trainer to jump from a helicopter and land safely on the ground in enough time for Arrow to chase down a poacher.