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Friday, 26 December 2014

Two Sides of Illegal Hunting: Poverty (part 1B)

(Note: This is the second part of the series Two Sides of Illegal Hunting which explores both sides of the issue of illegal hunting. Parts 1A and 1B introduce with reasons to explain why illegal hunting happens, and parts 2A and 2B will feature consequences and reasons against it. A third section, an informal reflection, will also be included. Links to the full series can he found here:

Reasons Behind Illegal Hunting: Poverty
One of the biggest reasons poachers take the risk of trespassing onto private property to hunt illegally is poverty. Many species are protected by the law because they are rare, also causing them to be considered more valuable to buyers and a means of potential economic benefit to those who can catch them.

Today the rarity of tigers makes their skins, bones, teeth, and claws even more valuable to those looking to purchase them. World Wildlife Fund states, “Parts from a single tiger can fetch as much as $50,000 on the black market, making the poaching of these magnificent creatures very alluring to criminal networks” (World Wildlife Fund, 2013). While some parts of animals like tiger skin and bone wire are bought as luxuries and status symbols, an illegal hunter’s reasons for poaching often are not out of want for luxuries, but out of need.

Although elephant tusks are not taken to meet any needs for survival for the consumer, it could help provide for the needs of the hunter, as “[a] single large tusk sold on the local black market can bring $6,000, enough to support an unskilled Kenyan worker for ten years” (Stirton, 2014).
Ivory carved into charms and ornate patterns. All images are from Encyclopaedia Brittanica ImageQuest Archives. 
In another African country, Tanzania, a survey of hunters by M.R. Nielsen conducted in 2006 in the Udzungwa Mountains found that illegal hunting is linked to poverty, family size and “composition”, or members. In another survey the following year conducted by E.J. Knapp in a region in Tanzania, no poaching households reported having full-time employment (Brennan, 2011). The connection between lack of employment and illegal hunting, especially in economically desperate regions. Tanzania’s  Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in 2012 was $570, almost $1000 below that of the average in Sub-Saharan Africa, and far below that of Canada with a GNI of $51 570 per capita in 2012 (World Bank, 2014). Unlike developed countries like Canada that import much of its goods including food products, Tanzania is highly dependent on agriculture but only a little more than 4 per cent is arable land, and an estimate by the World Food Program states that about 40% live in chronic food-deficit areas (World Vision, 2014). In areas where primary means of making a living is unreliable and opportunities to earn resources are limited, some turn to illegal hunting to make a living.

In a different mountainous region in Vietnam,
“[Ho, a] Pa Co ethnic man from the mountainous A Luoi district in Thua Thien-Hue province used to collect firewood for a living, but he started to hunt in 2010 after he saw a local restaurant owner buy a 50kg pig for 2.5 million dong. In contrast, 60kg of firewood is only worth 400,000 dong and he could not support his family, he says.” (UCA News, 2012)
In Vietnam, Ethnic minority groups like Pa Co often live with an underdeveloped infrastructure, isolated them from any of the country’s prosperity. These groups often depend on on low agricultural yields and forestry like Ho did, and a 2004 survey found that over 60% of minority groups were below the poverty line (Global Exchange, 2011). Just as with legal products, illegally hunted wildlife on the black market is backed by a continual demand from consumers, and economic need and poverty motivating the hunters to take that risk.

Works Cited (for this part only)
Brennan, Dervla, Mikolaj Czajkowski, Asanterabi Lowassa, Anke Fischer, Nick  Hanley , Mirko  Moro , and Loi  Naiman. "What can be done to reduce illegal hunting?  An investigation using choice experiments in the Serengeti,  Tanzania ." bioecon. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014. <>.
Global Exchange. "Vietnam: Poverty in Vietnam | Global Exchange." Global Exchange. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 June 2014. <>.
Stirton, Brent. "Blood Ivory". National Geographic Oct. 2012: 63. Print. Web.
UCA news reporter. "Illegal hunting is big business, driven by poverty -" N.p., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 26 May 2014. <>.
World Bank. "Tanzania." The World Bank. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 June 2014. <>.
World Vision. "Country Profiles: Tanzania." World Vision. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. <>.
World Wildlife Fund. "Problem." Save Tigers Now. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <>.
All images are from Encyclopaedia Brittanica ImageQuest Archives.

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