Close Loopholes! Save Animals!

We all claim that we care about all animals. But just saying that we care doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Our actions are what matter and prove if what we say is true. [Animals die every day, and many die just because their body parts are considered valuable; but as a global society, we have to prioritize what we value most.] Between 35,00o–50,000 African elephants are poached a year. Illegal animal trading and poaching is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world; it comes after drugs, human trafficking, and arms trade. Those ivory tusks may be “valuable” to people, but those tusks are essential to the animals. Laws do exist to help animals, but if the legislation really helped them then why does animal poaching still exist and why are animal parts are still found in the black market? These laws need to be put under a microscope and refined so that there are fewer loopholes for poachers to use.

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The idea of any animals being intentionally hurt, especially if it is only for their body parts, is horrifying and disgusting. I became interested in this topic in elementary school around third or fourth grade. I read an article about how tigers, my favorite animal at the time, made it to the endangered animal list. As I grew up, I remained interested in ways of preventing illegal animal poaching and any actions that intentionally or unintentionally harmed animals. One of the reasons I continue to explore this topic is because of my current and my ultimate favorite animal, the panda, is on the endangered list. The second reason is that I have become aware oft how the “progress” humans have made over the years majorly impacts the habitats of all animals. This action is unfair because while humans are living better lives, animals are suffering as a result. The graph below shows how the number of poaching cases has increased.

Further actions need to be taken to prevent from more animals from reaching the endangered list or becoming extinct. A graph from the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna or Flora (CITES) shows that over the years, the number of transactions of illegal animal trafficking has drastically risen. CITES has over 181 countries as partners but that is not all the countries in the world. Should all the countries join this organization and be committed to the cause then potentially the number of animal poaching cases will lower. Another reason as to why the numbers have increased is because poachers are no longer just doing it by themselves, individually. Animal trafficking has reached to a point that organized crime syndicates exist, and they are majorly active in killing off animals. They use high-performance technology to track and kill animals. Poaching is no longer what it was like in movies when you see a man with a gun dressed in camflouage tracking the animal. The new technology is like a fast-track to being endangered or extinct for animals.


The one thing that is utterly disgusting is that animals are being killed just for their parts like rhinos and elephants being killed for their tusks. Poachers make billions of dollars for selling ivory, and it is just wrong. Humans can’t put a price on another human’s life, but humans continually put a price on animals’ lives. Most poaching cases occur in Africa due to large amounts of rhinos, tigers, and elephants living there. As the years pass, the demand for one specific part from these animals gets higher and higher. In China, the price for ivory went from five dollars to 2,100 dollars in over a span of twenty-five years. Rhino tusks are believed to potentially help cure cancer and yet that has not been proven, but still rhinos are being hunted down. Elephant tusks are used for jewelry and figurines, but those are just materialistic items that serve no true purpose.


After further research, it may seem that countries, such as Africa, are having difficulty sticking to one side or position in trying to solve the problem of poaching. In his New York Times article, “U.S. Pours Millions Into Fighting Poachers in South Africa”, Ron Nixon reports, “…a South African court lifted a ban on domestic trade in rhinoceros horns, reigniting a debate between those who claim that a legal trade within South Africa’s borders could help stem the poaching crisis and those who say it would only worsen it.” The South African government believes that lifting a ban on rhino horns will help keep poaching down. With this in mind, I don’t see how lifting a ban will help the poaching crisis. The government is seemingly okaying poaching because they’re allowing rhinoceros horns to be traded. Poachers may see this as a sign to continue to hunt rhinos for their horns. Knowing that U.S. is trying to help South Africa by providing funds to stop poaching is a good sign. With the money provided the South Africa government can use it to make a stand and do what is best for the animals living there.

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The U.S. is not only helping other countries with poaching and animal trafficking, but it is also working internally. Kirk Johnson, of the New York Time, writes about how Washington may be the first state to pass even more strict laws in regards to owning exotic animal parts and states, “…the most far-reaching statewide law on animal trafficking in the nation — and the first such proposal to go to a statewide vote…” in his article, “Washington State Weighs Far-Reaching Law on Animal Trafficking.”This law if passed would condemn those who participate in animal trafficking in any form. If someone in the U.S. should own an artifact that has part of an animal and hasn’t had the artifact for at least ten years, then he or she will be punished and the artifact confiscated. This law may seem harsh but it will help convict those who sell as well as buy animal parts illegally. This law is definitely needed because, despite the warnings that have been given, many animals are being added to the endangered list.

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If nothing is fixed with the laws that stand now against poaching, then history will repeat itself. Without caring about the lives of animals, many more hunters will kill animals as what happened to the West African Black Rhinos and the Tasmanian Tigers. The world would not be the same if there were only humans on it, and we are getting closer to that reality as more habitats such as the rainforests are destroyed. Nature is affected by every decision we make, and so we should be careful in what we are doing to the environment and all its inhabitants.

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