In a continent where poverty is rife, it is easy for the organized crime syndicates that drive the illicit wildlife trade, to manipulate the poor to become poachers with the promises of receiving vast amounts of money. Where poverty exists and people are desperate they will be easily drawn into any activity that promises a way out, even if this might mean being arrested or even killed in a shoot out with law enforcement agencies.
It is these vast amounts of money that have created a monster and have escalated the endless killing of Africa’s rhino, elephant and countless other species in order to satisfy a growing greed from the East. This destruction though will only bring short-term relief to a minority while the greater issue of increasing poverty and criminality for the rest of the community remains.
It is totally unacceptable that we allow Africa’s wildlife heritage and ecosystems to be plundered by foreign lands and particularly China, in order to meet their own agenda’s. If we wish to truly end wildlife and environmental crime, we need to stop the slaughter of the wildlife and find solutions that resolve poverty through the creation of jobs that generate reasonable affluence in a sustainable manner.
Revenues generated from national parks and protected areas are substantial and are still largely untapped and it is the iconic wildlife in particular that draws tourism to African countries. It is this tourism that is the backbone to a multi-billion dollar industry that can assist with bringing about positive socio-economic change. The destruction of our wildlife and wild places will not only increase poverty and suffering at a local level but will also be the world’s loss and will negatively impact on our own long term survival.