Why poachers persist in hunting bushmeat — even though it’s dangerous

(jbdodane/Flickr)
(jbdodane/Flickr)

The illegal hunting of bushmeat, or game meat, has long distressed wildlife conservationists. It has persisted in sub-Saharan Africa, attracting international attention and debate. Enforcement by authorities and community-based initiatives have been tried as anti-poaching approaches, but with mixed results. Overall, wildlife populations have continued to plummet.

Why has poaching refused to go away? The answer, as suggested by poachers themselves, is simple: because poaching pays.

We conducted a study with poachers in western Tanzania. Our findings shed new light on what motivates people to poach and shows that poachers benefit considerably while the costs are negligible. The study also knocks down the general perception about who poachers are – they’re not necessarily the poorest of the poor. Rather than hunting for basic subsistence, they take risks to widen their livelihood options and improve their situation.

Our research therefore suggests that current approaches to dealing with poaching are misplaced for a simple reason: poachers vary widely. Bottom-up, or community-based, interventions like providing meat at a reduced cost, are unlikely to work unless the benefits can offset what they gain through poaching. And for those who are poaching out of necessity, top-down measures, like longer prison sentences or greater fines, are unlikely to be effective because they don’t have alternative ways to make an income.

Cost benefit analysis

Our study focused on individuals who lived in villages that bordered two premier national parks in Tanzania: Serengeti National Park and Ruaha National Park.

We interviewed 200 poachers, asking them questions about their lives, livelihood alternatives and motivations for poaching. Respondents volunteered information freely and were neither paid nor given incentives for their participation.

We found that illegal hunters are making rational decisions. They earn far more through hunting than through all the other options combined for rural farmers. Over a 12-month period, poachers on average generated US$425. This is considerably more than the amount earned through typical means – such as trade, small business, livestock sales and agricultural sales – which amount to about US$258 each year.

Obviously, benefits are meaningless unless compared to the costs involved. Hunting large animals in the bush carries economic and physical risks. Hunters could get injured, risk imprisonment or lose the opportunity to farm or do other forms of legitimate business.

But, in places like rural Tanzania, the benefits outweigh these costs.

Where farming is the main income generator, there is lots of time available to hunt between planting and harvesting seasons. And with high formal unemployment, labour in a typical household is rarely a limiting factor. We compared poaching and non-poaching households and found that the opportunity costs forfeited by poaching households amounted to just US$116, far below the amount gained through bushmeat sales of US$425. Because other income generating opportunities are few and pay little, poachers have little to lose by poaching.

Other economic costs may come in the form of arrests, imprisonment and subsequent fines. Each time a poacher entered the bush, he faced a 0.07% chance of being arrested. Once arrested, poachers may be fined, imprisoned, beaten or let off. Two-thirds of poachers had never been arrested. Those who had spent just 0.04 days in prison when averaged over a career of 5.2 years. Of those arrested, just over half (56%) had been fined, with fines averaging US$39. For every trip taken, poachers paid just two cents when averaged over their career.

The story here is simple. The majority of poachers never get arrested. And those who do pay a penalty that is paltry compared to the income typically earned.

Physical costs, including injury and possibly even death, have been far more difficult to assess. Outside Serengeti National Park, dangerous wildlife was frequently encountered in the bush and one-third of the poachers questioned had been injured during their hunting careers. Recovery times averaged slightly more than a month. But when averaged over the number of days a poacher spends in the bush (1,901 days), the likelihood of being injured on any given day was remarkably low, just 0.02%.

Still, poaching isn’t easy. Eight in ten respondents claimed it was a difficult activity and that they did it primarily because they didn’t make enough money from legal activities.

Moderately poor

Poverty has long been assumed to be a primary driver of poaching activities, however it may not be that poachers are the poorest of the poor.

Our analysis of poachers living along the borders of Ruaha National Park, revealed that they are poor, but not absolutely poor. In the language of the economist Jeffrey Sachs, many poachers may be “moderately poor”. They are unlikely to go hungry in the short term and are able to focus more on expanding their livelihood options.

Regarding their economic self-perception, these poaching households were similar to non-poaching households. Over half (54%) of poaching households considered themselves economically “average” rather than “poor”.

So, if poachers don’t consider themselves to be poor and consider poaching difficult, why do they do it? The answer may lay in a concept that the Nobel Peace Prize winner Amartya Sen has called“capability deprivation”.

Many poachers lack choices by which to improve their lives. They lack access to income which reduces their chances for further education or entrepreneurial opportunity. Deprived of capabilities to make a better life, many poachers —- at least in Tanzania —- continue to poach to gain agency, rather than just to make ends meet.

One respondent, outside Ruaha National Park, stated that after poaching for six years, he gave it up. His livestock numbers had grown enough to ensure sufficient income the whole year through. This poacher’s story reveals that some threshold of affluence is attainable for longtime poachers to curb illegal activity.

Results here present a new twist for those seeking to protect dwindling wildlife populations. It means that strategies to stop poaching can no longer focus merely on the poorest of the poor. Without other ways to improve their livelihoods, even poachers who can meet their basic needs will continue poaching. For one really simple reason: it pays.

Eli Knapp, Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biology and Earth Science, Houghton College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Howard man ordered pay $13,000 for trapping, killing migratory birds

https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2018/04/26/howard-man-ordered-pay-13-000-trapping-killing-migratory-birds/551653002/

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

A Howard man has been ordered to pay more than $13,000 in restitution for trapping migratory birds in steel traps in Minter County last year.

Armand Joseph Dornbusch, 63, was sentenced this week to pay $13,662.57 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also lost his hunting privileges for three years.

Miner County authorities found 21 steel-jawed leg-hold metal traps on wooden fence posts in August 2017. Twelve birds were found, including four hawks and one great horned owl, and four were still alive.

Three of the live birds were raptors and underwent surgery at the Great Plains Zoo to amputate “severely damaged digits” on their feet, according to the release. They were released back into the wild.

Montana outfitter pleads guilty to illegal mountain lion hunts

In one of the snowiest years on record, crews are working overtime to clear the streets. (David Murray/The Tribune) Wochit

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The owner, operator and outfitter for a Plains big game hunting business pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court to illegally offering mountain lion hunts in areas in which he wasn’t permitted to offer such pursuits.

Ernest Jablonsky, of Big Game Pursuits, changed his plea as part of a deal signed earlier this month. As part of that deal, prosecutors agreed to drop two other charges, including conspiracy to illegally hunt and kill mountain lions, and false labeling, as well as a separate case, which stemmed from another illegal mountain lion hunt from the same year.

Jablonsky’s case at hand was filed after authorities learned he had offered to take two Wisconsin men, including co-defendant Jeffrey Perlewitz, on a mountain lion hunt in December 2013. According to court documents, Jablonsky did not have a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service to legally guide such hunts on national forest lands, according to court documents.

“I took Mr. Perlewitz where I did not have permits to take money for it, and he paid me for it,” Jablonsky, 51, told U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston on Tuesday.

More: Outfitter, clients accused of illegal Montana mountain lion hunt

More: Montana outfitter to plead guilty in illegal mountain lion hunt case

Court documents state Jablonsky also told the Wisconsin hunters to tell Montana hunting officials that they didn’t use a guide or outfitting service. Additionally, Jablonsky allegedly did not report the hunters when he turned in his own industry reports.

His sentencing has not yet been set.

Perlewitz is now the last person indicted on related charges to have not accepted a plea deal, as court records indicate he is expecting to take the case to trial.

Moab business owner could lose hunting privileges after poaching case, DWR says

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, File

https://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=46295381

By Carter Williams, KSL.com


MOAB — The owner of La Sal Mountain Outfitters who recently pleaded guilty to felony wanton destruction of protected wildlife in connection with a 2016 case may also lose his hunting privileges for his role in poaching a cow elk, wildlife officials said.

Mark Thayn, 57, of Moab, pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony on Feb. 20, after he was charged with two other third-degree felonies and six other misdemeanors and infractions in 2017. He was placed on a three-year probation and eight other counts against him were dropped as a part of the plea.

In addition, Thayn agreed to pay $750 in restitution for the loss of the cow elk poached in 2016 and a $950 fine. Thayn’s conviction could be moved to a Class A misdemeanor after paying the fines and his probation, according to the plea agreement.

Thayn was accused of asking two California men to pay $2,000 each for a partially-guided cow elk hunt on a private property in 2016. When the men arrived in Utah, Thayn fraudulently charged the men an additional $400 for the licenses and gave them elk permits acquired from unsuccessful hunters several weeks prior, according to Division of Natural Resources officer Adam Wallerstein in a statement.

The men killed a cow elk and were attempting to harvest another when they were contacted by wildlife officers.

Wallerstein said Thayn will also pay restitution to the California hunters defrauded. Wallerstein added Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will pursue suspending Thayn’s hunting privileges in Utah and 46 other states for as much as seven years.

Wildlife officials said Thayn’s outfitting business was a legitimate licensing agent for the agency at the time the licenses were fraudulently sold in 2016.

Bollywood star jailed for hunting endangered species

 

Bollhttps://www.cbsnews.com/news/salman-khan-blackbuck-hunting-bollywood-star-prison-sentence-endangered-species/ywood actor Salman Khan (2nd L) arrives at a court in Jodhpur in the western state of Rajasthan, India, April 5, 2018.

 REUTERS

NEW DELHI — Bollywood star Salman Khan was convicted Thursday of poaching rare deer in a wildlife preserve two decades ago and sentenced to five years in prison. The busy actor contends he did not shoot the two blackbuck deer in the western India preserve in 1998 and was acquitted in related cases.

He was in court for the ruling in the western city of Jodhpur on Thursday. He is expected to be taken to a local prison while it could take days for his attorneys to appeal the conviction and seek bail.

Four other stars also accused in the case — Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam — were acquitted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri. They were in the jeep that Salman Khan was believed to be driving during the hunt. Tabu and Neelam both use just one name.

Khan had been sentenced to prison terms of between one and five years in related cases before being acquitted by appeals courts for lack of evidence.

salman khan

Bollywood actor Salman Khan is seen in a June 9, 2007 file photo.

 GETTY

The blackbuck is an endangered species protected under the Indian Wildlife Act.

Khan has had other brushes with the law.

In 2014, the Mumbai High Court acquitted him in a drunken-driving, hit-and-run case.

The judges found that prosecutors had failed to prove charges of culpable homicide, in which they accused Khan of driving while intoxicated in 2002 and running over five men sleeping on a sidewalk, killing one of them.

The government of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, has challenged his acquittal in the Supreme Court.

Police nab five poachers with trapping nets, weapons

https://www.nyoooz.com/news/bareilly/1069233/police-nab-five-poachers-with-trapping-nets-weapons/

  • By TOI
  • | Wednesday | 28th March, 2018

The spot where they were caught is a part of Kishanpur wildlife sanctuary in Kheri district. According to station house officer (SHO) RK Bharadwaj, police chased the poachers in the late hours of Tuesday following a lead. Pilibhit: Five poachers were arrested from the forest area near Sultanpur village on Wednesday morning by a police team of Seramau North police station, Pilibhit. Two trapping nets, one spear, a poleaxe and three daggers were seized from them. An FIR has been lodged in the matter and the accused have been jailed.All the accused are residents of Haripur Kishanpur village under Seramau North police station.

Pilibhit: Five poachers were arrested from the forest area near Sultanpur village on Wednesday morning by a police team of Seramau North police station, Pilibhit.

Two trapping nets, one spear, a poleaxe and three daggers were seized from them.

An FIR has been lodged in the matter and the accused have been jailed.All the accused are residents of Haripur Kishanpur village under Seramau North police station.

The spot where they were caught is a part of Kishanpur wildlife sanctuary in Kheri district.

According to station house officer (SHO) RK Bharadwaj, police chased the poachers in the late hours of Tuesday following a lead.

hunters fined $2,000

 

Two Sault Ste. Marie men were fined a total of $2,000 for an illegal deer hunt.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry received a complaint about two men hunting illegally on St. Jospeh Island in October 2016.

An investigation found Cameron Tucker and Evan Thorne were hunting a white-tailed deer when Tucker shot and killed a buck deer without a licence. The pair took the deer to a nearby camp to process. Tucker repeatedly gave false information to a conservation officer, a release says.

Tucker was fined $500 for unlawfully hunting a deer without a licence and $500 for obstructing a peace officer.

He was also handed a two-year hunting prohibition in addition to a three-year ban for another hunting offence.

Thorne was fined $1,000 for unlawfully possession an illegally killed deer.

Justice of the Peace James Bubba heard the case in Ontario Court of Justice in Sault Ste. Marie on Aug. 9.

3 men plead guilty to illegal hunting of bull bison

http://nbcmontana.com/news/local/3-men-plead-guilty-to-illegal-hunting-of-bull-bison

Yellowstone bison

AA

Three men have pleaded guilty to the illegal hunting and wasting of bull bison north of Yellowstone Park.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Jesse Darr, Ryley Heidt and Peyton Simmons, all of Park County, were sentenced in justice court Tuesday for unlawful possession.

Each was ordered to pay fines and charges totaling $2,605 and each will lose hunting and fishing privileges for four and a half years.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wardens found three dead bison on March 2 in Beattie Gulch, a strip of Forest Service land near the Yellowstone border.

The heads of the three bison were each removed and usable meat was left to waste. The skulls were skinned and hidden nearby.

The men were linked to the kills with help from a dog.

South Sudan bans wildlife hunting

Source: Xinhua   2018-03-06 21:25:35
 http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/06/c_137020350.htm

JUBA, March 6 (Xinhua) — South Sudan on Tuesday banned all forms of wildlife hunting, including commercial trade in wildlife trophies, the country’s conservation agency said Tuesday.

The ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism banned wildlife products such as skin, meat, fur, bird feathers, among others.

According to the directive, any person caught dealing with wildlife products shall be arrested, prosecuted and those found guilty would face a two-year jailed term or fines.

Thomas Sebit, deputy spokesman of the ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism, told Xinhua that the ban seeks to clamp down on poaching of wild animals in the country’s national parks.

He said the government recently noticed increased poaching of gazelles, buffaloes and elephants by armed groups and civilians across the country.

“There are people who are holding guns, they go to the national parks and kill our animals randomly not discriminating whether old or young. You get cooked bush meat in hotels and being sold in markets openly,” Sebit said.

War-torn South Sudan has the world’s second largest animal migration and is considered a good place for ecotourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The East African country is also known for its vast swamp region of the Sudd, sometimes referred to as one of the largest wetlands in the world hosting about 400 species of birds.

However, the tourism industry made up only 1.8 percent of South Sudan’s GDP, WTTC said in 2013.

“We are urging our citizens to respect the law. These are animals for us and will help us in the future when well managed to boost our economy,” Sebit appealed.

Flagstaff man accused of illegally hunting mule deer, search warrant reveals trophies

 

Investigators recovered fhttp://www.12news.com/article/news/crime/flagstaff-man-accused-of-illegally-hunting-mule-deer-search-warrant-reveals-trophies/472775299

mule deer trophies at his home, including antlers believed to be from a well-known deer who lived in the Grand Canyon.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Several state and federal agencies served a search warrant on a man at his Flagstaff home and found mule deer trophies suspected to be illegally hunted.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department have been investigating the hunting activities of Loren McReynolds for several years now.

Investigators recovered five mule deer trophies at McReynolds’ home, including nontypical antlers believed to be from a well-known deer that lived within the Grand Canyon National Park boundaries, AZGFD said.

“The department has received many complaints about McReynolds’ hunting activities over the years,” said Gene Elms, Law Enforcement Branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department in a press release. “Thanks to those individuals who came forward and the diligence of our investigators, we have the evidence to pursue criminal charges for McReynolds’ actions.”

McReynolds has a previous history of alleged wildlife violations, and was arrested in January 2017 for weapons violations and for killing federally protected burros north of Williams, Ariz., according to AZGFD.

McReynolds faces possible jail time and court fines if convicted. In addition, the AZGFD has authority to seek civil restitution for the loss of wildlife to the state and suspend or revoke McReynolds’ hunting privileges.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages anyone with information about the illegal take of wildlife to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 800-352-0700 or visit www.azgfd.com/ogt.