(CNN)The suspects documented their kill in graphic photos — grinning near slumped over carcasses, posing with a decapitated elk head and taking a selfie with animal blood splattered over one of the alleged poacher’s face.
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.
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.
Five wildlife rangers and a driver guarding one of the world’s most important refuges for mountain gorillas and other critically endangered species have been killed in an ambush.
Authorities in the Virunga National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s famed haven for gorillas, said the men were gunned down by militia men early on Monday near the border with Uganda.
“Virunga National Park is deeply saddened to confirm reports of an attack on our staff today,” the park said in a statement.
“Five Virunga rangers and a staff driver were killed during an ambush in the Central Sector of the Park. A sixth ranger was also wounded.”
Joel Malembe, a park spokesman, said the team had been driving through the bush between the sectors of Lulimba and Ishasha when a group of militia men opened fire on their vehicles at about 6 AM local time.
Cosma Wilungula, the director of the DRC’s national parks, said the attackers were from one of the country’s “Mai Mai” militia groups, which were initially founded in the 1990s to fight cross-border attacks from Rwanda.
More than 150 rangers have been killed protecting the Virunga national park, which covers an area three times the size of Luxembourg, over the past twenty years.
Virunga was established established in 1925 and describes itself as Africa’s oldest national park.
Covering more than 3000 square miles of wilderness on the Rwandan and Ugandan border, it is one of Africa’s most diverse habitats and is home to about a quarter of the world’s surviving 880 mountain gorillas.
It is also a refuge for significant populations of eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.
But it has been ravaged by the unrest sweeping Congo’s troubled North Kivu province, with dozens of armed groups preying on the local population and battling for control of rich reserves of timber, gold and other resources.
They also often poach animals in the park for bush meat.
Ranger outposts are regularly attacked and it not unknown for rangers and militias to fight battles with automatic weapons to for several hours. Emmanuel de Merode, the park’s Belgian director, was shot and wounded in a road ambush between the park and Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in 2014.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen increasing instability of the past year, after Joseph Kabila, the president, refused to step down at the end of his term in 2016.
Mr Kabila has agreed to fresh elections in January, but the United Nations and aid agencies have warned that escalating violence and lawlessness threatens to spiral out of control.
Violence has escalated in the east of the country in particular since February, raising fears of a return to the horrific civil wars that claimed millions of lives in the region between 1998 and 2008.
A Mai Mai militia was blamed for shooting dead a Catholic priest in North Kivu over the weekend.
The United Nations has said over 5.1 million people have been displaced in recent years and 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, putting the scale of the crisis on a par with Syria.
The national government has rejected that description of the situation and has said it will not attend a United Nations pledging conference to raise money to deal with the crisis in Geneva on Friday.
The United Nations has 15,000 peace keepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it the largest peace keeping mission in the world.
Only days after a young gorilla died after being caught in one of these snares, two four-year-old gorillas were filmed working together to disassemble similar traps.
“This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that … I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares,” said Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center. “We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that,” Vecellio added.
Rangers patrol the forest daily, removing snares in continued efforts to protect the critically endangered mountain gorillas. It was on a routine patrol in 2012 that tracker John Ndayambaje saw two juvenile gorillas: a male named Dukore and a female named Rwema, rapidly destroy two traps.
“Young Dukore and Rwema, as well as Tetero with a black back, ran to the trap and destroyed together the branches used to hold the rope,” said Vecillio. “They saw another trap nearby and, as quickly as before, they destroyed the second branch and pulled the rope to the ground. They were very confident. They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left.”
Snares are a common occurrence in the national park, home of the mountain gorillas, and although they are intended to catch antelope and smaller species, they can also ensnare the great apes. Adult gorillas can generally free themselves, but a younger animal may not be so lucky, as seen in the case of an infant named Ngwino who died from injuries after being caught in such a snare – she had dislocated her shoulder trying to escape and developed gangrene from open wounds where the rope cut into her leg.
The gorillas observed on this occasion are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla: Gorilla beringei beringei. There are only an estimated 680 mountain gorillas left in the wild, in two separate small populations, so every life is precious.
LA Lizard Smuggler Gets Taste Of His Own Medicine A judge ordered a man convicted of smuggling monitor lizards in boxes to serve house confinement for his animal cruelty.
By SoCal Patch, News Partner | Mar 29, 2018 4:31 pm ET LA Lizard Smuggler Gets Taste Of His Own Medicine
LOS ANGELES, CA — An Inglewood man was sentenced Thursday to six months under house arrest for smuggling five monitor lizards into the United States — two of which died while they were being shipped.
Gayle Simpson, 34, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real to serve three years of federal probation. Simpson pleaded guilty in September to a single federal count of smuggling monitor lizards that were shipped from the Philippines.
“We hope this sentence sends the message that these actions have consequences,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Silber said, adding that the case was one of three involving monitor lizards prosecuted by his office since last winter.
The case against Simpson stems from a package intercepted by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection last spring. The package, which was labeled “speakers” and was addressed to Simpson’s son, contained five monitor lizards: three spiny-necked water monitor lizards, one Samar water monitor lizard, and one Palawan water monitor lizard, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Two of the monitor lizards arrived dead, and a third had suffered a crushed foot. All five are protected under CITES, an international agreement which aims to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant specimens does not threaten their survival.
A subsequent search warrant executed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Simpson’s home resulted in the seizure of four yellow-headed water monitor lizards and two spiny-necked water monitor lizards, prosecutors said.
Silber said the death and injury suffered by the reptiles during shipping illustrates the cruelty of animal smuggling, for which profit is the usual motive. The monitor lizards in the Simpson case were worth an estimated $1,500 to $2,000, authorities said.
- | 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.
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.
COEUR d’ALENE — A Mica Bay man accused of killing a moose out of season was convicted by a jury after a two-day trial earlier this month in Coeur d’Alene.
But before he could be sentenced, John A. Huckabay, 65, flew to Africa where he works in the medical field.
The court expects him back April 27 for sentencing.
Huckabay is accused of killing a cow moose Oct. 2, 2014 near Red Hog Road at Mica Bay, on the northwest side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. He pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial.
Penalties and fines for killing a moose out of season include a $1,500 civil penalty and a $500 fine and no more than six months in jail. His hunting privileges could be revoked for a year, or up to life, at the discretion of the court.
Huckabay, who works in Africa for a University of Washington medical evaluation program that studies the spread of disease, is known to neighbors and Idaho Fish and Game as someone who likes to hunt.
Over the past decade Huckabay has been a fervent supporter of Idaho Fish and Game by purchasing a slew of hunting and fishing licenses, tags and permits.
The department said he had a tag in 2014 for moose in Unit 2 along the Spokane River, but not for Unit 5 near Mica Bay where the cow moose was killed after some neighbors reported it had become a nuisance.
Huckabay was charged after neighbors heard a rifle shot and later saw Huckabay hoisting a moose into the bed of a teal-colored pickup truck near Red Hog Road.
In an ensuing investigation Idaho Fish and Game officers found the spot where the moose was reportedly shot and killed and followed evidence to a skinned moose hanging at the shop of a butcher with a private operation in Coeur d’Alene.
A conservation officer stuck a thermostat in the meat to determine when the animal was killed, and DNA evidence showed it was from a cow moose, according to court testimony. Evidence pointed to a match between the moose at the butcher’s and the moose shot at Red Hog Road.
Fish and Game officers testified that Huckabay had been contacted by a neighbor about a problem moose, and allegedly told the neighbor he had a tag, that the season was open, although the season in that unit did not open for another two weeks. A short time later, according to testimony, Huckabay told the neighbor he had shot the moose.
After the trial, Huckabay, who has no previous criminal history, posted a $20,000 bond and was returned his passport so he could return to work overseas.
Before his next court appearance, Huckabay will travel to Madagascar, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore before returning to Coeur d’Alene to face First District Senior Judge Ben Simpson for sentencing.
OREGON STATE POLICE
OREGON STATE POLICE
OREGON STATE POLICE
OREGON STATE POLICE
A statewide campaign that encourages people to inform on poachers just had the most robust year in its 32-year history.
The Turn in Poachers fund — a collaboration between the Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon State Police and state Department of Fish and Wildlife — rewarded $24,200 in 50 cases last year. That’s more than double the average amount, according to the hunter’s association. The number of cases typically ranges from 20 to 35 in a given year.
Clatsop County had one reward case in 2017. An informant received $500 for information about an elk shot in an area where hunting is not allowed. Poaching issues in the county mainly center on Roosevelt Elk and blacktail deer, since those animals are the most popular big game for hunters, said Sgt. Joe Warwick of the state police’s fish and wildlife division.
The Albany area had the highest number of rewards at 11.
Pinpointing why hunters report more or fewer poaching cases can be difficult. Not all poaching convictions are a result of tips, and not all informants accept rewards.
“We don’t know much about the informants,” Dungannon said. “They give the tip, we write the check and we send it to them.”
Dungannon suggests recent raises in reward money may be a factor in last year’s spike. Standard amounts range from $100 for game fish, shellfish, upland birds, waterfowl and fur-bearers to $1,000 for bighorn sheep, mountain goats and moose.
Dungannon also pointed to the state police’s efforts to advertise the program on social media and in local publications.
“There are things that officers can do to take the game to the next level and get the word out to the community,” Dungannon said.
Nearly all of the fund’s financial support comes from courts ordering those convicted of violations to pay restitution. The hunter’s association and other conservation groups also pitch in when unusually large award amounts are requested.
A bill pending in the state Legislature may help on that front. While judges already impose fines for misdemeanor offenses, the bill would lay out a precedent to impose such fines in addition to any jail or prison sentence. It also would give the state the ability to deny licenses, tags and permits if fines are not repaid.
“This removes any doubt from the court that they’re able to assess the restitution to the state and to the TIP fund,” Dungannon said.
To continue its growth, police and others who run the fund can think of ways to incentivize hunters to turn in suspected poachers.
“It’s a big deal to take home an elk,” Warwick said. “We need to tell them, ‘That bull elk that guy poached, that’s a bull you could have caught legally.’”
A Central New York man was recently charged with 11 different offenses under the state’s Environmental Conservation Law and faces fines of up to $11,500 for illegally shooting three bucks with a bow and a crossbow.
Two of the deer were reportedly killed in his backyard over bait.
The case first came to attention of DEC officers after Dean P. Brutcher Jr., 34 of DeWitt, boasted on three Facebook posts about killing two, 8-point bucks during the archery season, according to the DEC. A state hunting license only allows a hunter to take one buck during the archery season.
The town of DeWitt is among those Central New York suburban communities with excessive numbers of deer. The latest counts show the community has about 100 deer per square mile – at least five times the normal eight to 20 per square mile, according to figures from the state College of Environmental Science and Forestry, DeWitt officials said.
An investigation into Brutcher’s Facebook posts was initiated by state Environmental Conservation Officer Don Damrath. As Damrath was attempting to locate Brutcher, the man posted a photo of a third buck taken on his Facebook page, the biggest of the three deer.
The ECO caught up with Brutcher at his home “late in the evening (on Dec. 22) and the man produced three, 8-point racks to go along with a poorly concocted story about how and where he killed the deer.”
According to the DEC, “ECO Damrath determined two of the three deer were killed over bait in the backyard of the man’s house in a nearby suburban neighborhood. One of the bucks was taken with a crossbow during the archery only season, and one of the bucks was never tagged. None of the deer were reported.”
Damrath seized all three sets of antlers.
Brutcher was charged with taking big game in excess of the bag limit; unlawful possession of protected wildlife; failure to report deer take within 7 days (three counts); take/kill deer wrong implement; unlawful deer kill (two counts); hunt over bait (two counts); entice deer to feed (within) 300 feet (of a) highway.
Five of the above offenses are misdemeanors. Brutcher faces an additional misdemeanor charge for signing a false statement, DEC said.
Along with the above charges, Brutcher also faces loss of his hunting privileges.
Meanwhile, DeWitt officials in late October approved a plan to use federal sharpshooters to hunt and kill deer in targeted areas of the community.
The town’s plan was recently approved by the DEC and culling of the herd is expected to start soon at seven undisclosed locations.