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A seashell vendor in Tanzania sells seashells to tourists which have been taken from the sea alive, killing the animal inside.
Poaching is the illegal hunting, fishing, trapping, or eating of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.

It may be illegal and in violation because:
  • The game or fish is not in season; usually the breeding season is declared as the closed season when wildlife species are protected by law.
  • The poacher does not possess a license.
  • The poacher is illegally selling the animal or animal parts or plant for a profit.
  • The animal is being hunted outside of legal hours.
  • The hunter used an illegal weapon for that animal.
  • The animal or plant is on restricted land.
  • The right to hunt this animal is claimed by somebody.
  • The means used are illegal (for example, baiting a field while hunting quail or other animals, using spotlights to stun or paralyze deer, or hunting from a moving vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft).
  • The animal or plant is protected by law or that it has been listed as extinct or endangered (see for example the Endangered Species Act for the USAmarker or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and similar laws/treaties.
  • The animal or plant has been tagged by a researcher.


Note that only wild animals can be poached. Stealing or killing domestic animals is considered to be theft ("cattle rustling"), not poaching.

Plant poaching is also on the rise. A prominent example is the removal of ginseng growing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Parkmarker. It is estimated that dried wild ginseng plants are worth more than $500 per pound on the black market.

Traditional medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine often incorporates ingredients from all parts of plants, the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. The use of parts of endangered species (such as seahorses, rhinoceros horns, and tiger bones and claws) has created controversy and resulted in a black market of poachers who hunt restricted animals. Deep-seated cultural beliefs in the potency of tiger parts are so prevalent across Asia that laws protecting even critically endangered species such as the Sumatran Tiger fail to stop the display and sale of these items in open markets, according to a 2008 report from TRAFFIC. Popular "medicinal" tiger parts from poached animals include tiger penis, believed to improve virility, and tiger eyes. In Black Market, photographer Patrick Brown took a deep look at the illegal wildlife trade in Asia.

Slips of Authority

The American paddlefish is poached for its eggs
There have been many national and international actions taken against certain kinds of poaching and hunting. Hunting for Ivory was banned in 1989, but poaching of elephants continues in many parts of Africa stricken by economic decline. The Philippinesmarker have more than 400 endangered animals, all of which are illegal to poach. Governments have taken many steps to stop poaching.

Some species such as the sturgeon or paddlefish (aka spoonbill catfish) are listed as species of "special concern" by the U.S. Federal government, but are only banned from fishing in a few states such as Mississippi, and Texasmarker. The species, which is being overfished for its eggs to make caviar is still allowed to be taken in all other states.

Addressing the problem

Some game wardens have made use of robotic decoy animals placed in high visibility areas to draw out poachers for arrest after the "animals" get shot.

See also



References

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