The animal kingdom is no stranger to crime and atrocities. The illegal activities that are happening all over the world to wildlife is something that needs to be addressed. From unlawful habitat destruction to wildlife trade, the criminal empire that has been built on the back of the world’s dying species has become a multi-billion dollar business. In this article, we will address some of the most common illegal acts committed regularly across the globe.
Poaching is usually portrayed in Hollywood films featuring rag-tag commandos in the African plains massacring elephants and rhinos in large numbers. However, this is just one aspect of poaching; a lot of it is happening on a smaller scale in your backyard, and this is where the little things make a big difference.
Poaching is defined as the illegal taking of wildlife. This can be hunting without a license, hunting endangered species, or hunting on protected land. This is happening in all 50 states in the US, and it is devastating animal numbers putting many native species on the endangered list.
In the United States, deer poaching is the most common of animals that get illegally killed every year. Sometimes it is for sustainability to feed a hunter’s family, but often, it is solely to add another trophy to the trophy room.
Deer are not the only animals being poached. Many include small game as well as bears, bison, and other large mammals.
It is not just a problem within the United States; when I say that Hollywood portrays poaching as mass killings in African meadows, it is not far off. Many large animals, such as big cats, elephants, and rhinos, are being poached at an alarming rate both for sport and for resources.
It goes without saying poaching is one of the most common crimes being committed against the animal kingdom.
3. Illegal Trade of Wildlife/Products
We all understand money, so let's put the illegal wildlife trade into perspective; it is estimated that the illicit trade business is valued at 10-20 billion dollars a year.
That's a billion with a B.
This includes trading exotic pets, ivory, and exotic meats, among other wares. This trade has been able to grow so large due to the lack of enforcement attributed to the cause of stopping it. There are simply not enough people and regulations to battle back. And the animals are paying for it.
Thousands of animals face incredibly impoverished conditions just because some rich corporate tycoon wants to eat tiger meat or get their son a monkey for Christmas. The commodification of the lives of these animals is resulting in devastation to their numbers.
Many animals are facing extinction because of the demand in the Western world for the products these beautiful creatures contain.
The only way to stop this crime from being committed is to raise awareness, bring people together to change policy, and confront elected officials to do something before it is too late.
2. Habitat Destruction
When habitat destruction comes to mind, many, including me, think about the Amazon rainforest, a far-off land we can only dream about. Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the illegal destruction of habitat is a global problem.
Illegal logging is one of the prevalent forms of illegal habitat destruction, and it makes sense; the world's need for wood materials and space to farm has grown exponentially. But there is also destruction in the form of illegal mines, such as the cobalt mines in Africa, that take up a vast amount of space to bring products to the Western world.
Not only are these illegal clearing of trees or mining of resources taking away habitat space from the animals, but it is also destroying many protected areas that were supposed to be a safe haven for species to recoup and regain their numbers.
If that is not enough, there is also the pollution factor in which many waste materials pollute the water tributaries and the soil making it difficult for plant and animal life to live; on top of it all, many materials are left behind, creating large amounts of trash.
If there is one crime that would be considered the most destructive to the environment and animals, it's, without a doubt, illegal habitat destruction.
1. Illegal Fishing
Illegal fishing is, bar none, the most common and most destructive of the illicit acts on this list. Both commercial and private fishing are to blame, and the numbers are staggering.
It is estimated that about 20% of all fish caught on a global scale is done illegally. That is roughly 26 tons of fish and multiple billions of dollars obtained unlawfully. With that much money on the line, it is no wonder why it is a continuing business.
This includes all types of fish, from salmon to orcas. The oceans and waterways of the world are getting absolutely annihilated with no end in sight, and it is a saddening sight to behold. The stocks of fish around the world are deteriorating at an alarming rate.
What can be done?
Well, much like the illegal wildlife trade, we can increase awareness, and petition the higher-ups, but we can also practice and promote sustainable fishing across the world.
One thing is for certain, whether it be illegal fishing, poaching, or any other illegal act committed on the animal kingdom; if something doesn't change soon, the entire world may soon be hurting.