Almost everyone has a favorite animal, whether it’s exotic, rare or endangered.
First, picture your favorite animal. Now, imagine said animal being brutally harmed, robbed of necessary organs, or killed just for sport and shown off as a type of trophy.
This is a reality for animal species around the world, mostly in Africa. There may be only the occasional awareness campaign or news coverage that comes up on poaching, but it definitely happens. Just check it out on the African Wildlife Foundation’s website and prepare to be appalled.
A recent and pressing poaching campaign is for the black rhinos in Namibia and Coastal East Africa. The World Wildlife Fund’s website says there are now fewer than 5,000 of these guys left now, which is a 97.6% decrease since their initial decline in 1960.
Why are they being poached?
According to the World Wildlife Fund, it began with European settlers in the early 20th century killing them for food or sport. Since then, many people have sought them out for their horns for spiritual and healing purposes, though the horns have not been proven as a cure for either. The rhino horns also go for more than the price of gold, which is another attractive quality to poachers.
Unfortunately, the black rhino isn’t the only species approaching extinction, and poaching isn’t the only factor contributing to the endangerment and extinction of our favorite exotic animals.
A few months ago, a friend of mine showed me a photo of a young girl smiling next to an adult giraffe. It was no average photo, though. Instead, the picture was of the girl, 12-year-old Aryanna Gourdin, on the ground triumphantly holding up the head of a giraffe she had just killed while on a hunting trip in Africa.
Many trophy hunters point out the money they pay to hunt benefits conservation efforts because it is often put back into the communities they hunt in. They justify the killing of critically endangered breeds with the fact that for every animal hunted, more money is put back to conserve the other members of that species and others. I still cringe at killing of such elegant creatures for the fun of it.
As with every other social issue, awareness is key. If more people were aware of the amount of poaching done each year and its effects on species populations, they would be more likely to get involved.
It is the same case with trophy hunting. Perhaps now it is beneficial to conserving the species, but if enough people become outraged at seeing these exotic animals being killed, I believe they would send donations to save the faltering species. Then, there would no longer be a need for trophy hunting, and we could work on solely saving, not killing, our animals.
Harriet Adams is a 20-year-old mass communication sophomore from Bonita, Louisiana.