What Is Animal Poaching?

Crime is a big problem in the world, and unfortunately crime even goes over to the world of wildlife. One of the worst wildlife crimes that is still a problem today is known as animal poaching.

What Is Animal Poaching?

Animal poaching is the illegal practice of hunting animals with the aim of selling parts of them for financial gain. This could be for example, elephants, whereby poachers will hunt them for ivory – which is extremely valuable.

While it’s true that not all animal hunting or animal trade is illegal, poaching is different in its approach and its aims.

But of course, there’s a lot more to it than this – so we’ve written this handy guide to explain more about animal poaching,(see also: Is Poaching Illegal? Comprehensive Guide To The Law And Animal Trafficking) its causes and much more. Read on!

What Are The Causes Of Animal Poaching?

The sad truth is that we, as humans, have become accustomed to a specific style of life that frankly is unsustainable and can be cruel – from natural resources to animals.

For example, some people have become used to leather products or exotic wildlife for their food or pets. Let’s examine some of the potential causes of animal poaching in more detail below.

Demand Is Money

There are many animal products, and animals themselves, that are extremely valuable. As a result, there are many people out there who try to make money by the illegal hunting of these animals or trapping them.

However, this would not be the case if the demand was non-existent. The problem is of course though, that the demand for these products continues to be high, which drives more and more poachers to the life of crime.

Generally, the demand is fueled by the extremely wealthy who have a specific lifestyle – but it’s not just those. The working class person can also be at fault for wearing fur or leather as part of their outfit.

On top of this, there have been many myths over the years that things like, for example rhino horn, can help to cure illnesses like cancer or improve virility. Many people would therefore be easily swayed to making such a purchase and this can drive demand.

Corruption And Gaps In Protection

One of the biggest reasons that poaching continues to happen all over the world is due to the gaps in protection. This could be through loopholes in the law or through the law enforcement agencies turning a blind eye to what’s going on.

In fact, some governments purposely encourage the practice of poaching without explicitly saying it. The corruption of these governments is extremely common unfortunately and this can ramp up poaching massively.

What Are The Impacts Of Poaching?

While it’s important that we have explained the causes of poaching and what it is exactly, it’s also important that we examine the impacts of poaching too. Below, we’ve got these in more detail.

Changes People’s Lives

Poaching of course affects animals (see also: How Does Animal Poaching Affect The Food Chain?)and the wildlife as a whole, but many people often overlook the impact that poaching can have on us as humans.

First, there’s the fact that killing animals for superficial reasons is taking away food sources that many people need to survive in some countries.

This of course can cause many societies to struggle to live – and this can drive them to a life of crime, simply to earn money.

Indeed, the poorest people in the world will suffer the most and they will need to alter the way they live in order to succeed. Poaching will have led them to that position.

Effects Of Nature

There are many effects that occur in nature due to the poaching business. First, as overfishing will cause problems in the world, overhunting can lead to imbalances in their habitat.

Not only this, but it is quite common for poachers to introduce invasive species which can often prey on the native species and further the imbalance of the natural environment.

Accidental Killing

Accidental Killing

While poachers are hunting for their chosen animal, it’s possible – and very common – that they kill or injure the wrong animal in the meantime. This could be through a trap which is set off by deer or elk – or it could be a stray bullet from their rifle.

Whatever the reason, accidental killings mean an animal passes away needlessly, and more often than not, these animals are left there to die and not used for meat.

Organized Crime

As the poaching trade is illegal and the demand is high, along with abetting from government agencies and law enforcements – we also see a rise in organized crime gangs.

These groups not only move illegal animal products, but they may also move drugs and weapons through to their destination. As a result, larger criminal activities take place which leads to ruined lives, death and a loss of government taxes.

What Is Being Done About Poaching?

There are some things that people can, and indeed are, doing to try to fight against the illegal poaching practice. Here’s just some of the ones you need to know about.


Of course, one of the best ways you can help to prevent practices like poaching is by educating others about their impacts and dangers. Generally, people might not understand why wearing fur for example can be a problem.

Once enough people understand the problem and work towards a boycott of these products, the demand will drop significantly and the criminal organizations lose enough money to lead them to cease trade.

Demand Political Change

Depending on what country you live in, the way in which you demand political change will differ. However, the premise is still the same.

Put pressure on your government to make changes to the law for the trade of certain animal products, and if it’s not already – ensure they make poaching a crime with harsh punishments.

The fact is, there are many countries where poaching is simply overlooked, and these nations will need huge changes in their laws for real improvement to happen.

Support Organizations

There are many organizations out there like the WWF that are actively trying to make poaching a thing of the past. So, one of the ways that you can help to stop poaching is by donating to a charity like this every so often.

When possible, share the charity’s work on social media and spread the word – because the more funding they receive, the more likely they are to succeed.

Don’t Poach

Finally, the most obvious point of how you can prevent poaching is by not actively taking part in it. There are organizations in countries like South Africa that act as though they are legal hunting groups, whereby you pay a fee to “live your dream”.

But many of these groups are actually poachers using a different name and trying to con others into helping them. To be on the safe side – avoid anything like this.

Final Thoughts

Poaching is a significant problem in our world today, but if we know more about it and how we can help to fight it – we can improve our world.

Olivia Kepner