A lucrative and almost unsanctioned trade
Today, poaching is regarded as one the most lucrative business on black markets, after drug and arms trading, sale of counterfeit goods, and human trafficking. Elephants, rhinoceroses, pangolins, and great apes are the species currently killed in the greatest number, and this slaughter sometimes reaches astonishing magnitudes.
Many endangered species
In 2014, 1215 rhinoceroses were killed for their horns in South Africa alone. This is not only a massacre, but an aberration, bearing in mind that we know that these horns — destined for use in traditional Chinese medicine — are made up of nothing more than keratin, the same substance that constitutes our hair and nails. An estimated 20 000 African elephants have been killed for their ivory every year over the past three years. Furthermore, for the pangolin – the world’s only scaly-skinned mammal, — which lives in Africa and Asia and feeds on ants and termites – the situation is just as alarming, although attracting much less attention. These animals are prized for their purported medicinal properties, and it’s estimated that 100 000 are killed every year.
Our main anti-poaching actions are centred on our bonobo-protection programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo and on our Gorilla programme in Cameroon. In addition, through our Tigers and People initiative (link to tigers site in new window) we contribute to the anti-poaching work carried out by the WildTeam organisation in Bangladesh. There, boat patrols are used to combat ongoing tiger poaching in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.