Kill to eat: pandemic revitalized poaching around the world
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Kill to eat: pandemic revitalized poaching around the world

23 June , 23:56In the world
The involuntary victims of coronavirus are tigers, leopards, rhinos, antelopes and many other wild animals.

The AP reports an alarming trend: the need to feed during lockdown has led to an increase in illegal hunting in the world's poorest countries.

Irina Ziganshina

A photo of a dead leopard female with a fixed gaze, which the Associated Press publishes in her material, was taken in 2014. But it could be done today. As the forensic medical examination showed, the animal died from the fact that the wire trap hidden by the poacher punctured his breathing throat and left a wound that festered for several days, slowly killing the leopard. There were even more such traps set up in the dense forests of South India during the coronavirus pandemic: people who were unemployed were forced to hunt poaching in order to earn money.

It is clear that a person who agrees to an illegal hunt runs the risk of being imprisoned, but the fear of starvation is much more real. According to the Indian Wildlife Conservation Society, since the country announced the introduction of an isolation regime, at least four tigers and six leopards became victims of poachers - not to mention antelopes, giant squirrels, wild boars and birds like peacocks. Authorities are worried that a new surge in poaching could lead to death and endangered tigers and leopards, and those species on which the survival of these predators depends.

Experts believe that the pandemic has affected the illegal hunting and trade in wild animals in two ways. On the one hand, poachers have intensified in many developing countries because quarantine has led to food shortages and weakened wildlife conservation. On the other hand, border closures and travel restrictions slowed down the illegal trade in some valuable animals.

Граница Индии и Бутана, 2011 год: шкура тигра, изъятая у браконьеров индийскими правоохранительными органами. С начала карантина в Индии по меньшей мере четыре тигра и шесть леопардов были убиты браконьерами, сообщило Общество охраны дикой природы Индии
Photo:фото WTI / AP

So, for example, the trade in meat and pangolin scales almost got up. These anteater-like dinosaurs are caught in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, and then most of their prey is smuggled to China, where pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and scales are used in traditional medicine. In April, the Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that it reported that traders stockpiled pangolin scales in several countries in Southeast Asia, awaiting the end of the pandemic. The same report said that rhinoceros horn cannot be taken out of Mozambique, and the ivory traders in Southeast Asia are struggling to sell off their stocks, which have become a dead weight after the ban on trade in ivory in China in 2017 .

The pandemic further aggravated their situation, as potential Chinese buyers could not get to the ivory markets in Cambodia, Laos and other countries.

According to experts, the illegal trade in pangolins continued throughout Africa all this time: the Bushmen also eat their meat. At the same time, international trade weakened: they tried to transport the pangolins by plane, but the main shipments, by sea, stood up with the cessation of international shipping.

Нагпур, штат Махараштра, Индия, 2011 год: голова тигра, изъятая у курьера во время доставки покупателю
Photo:фото WTI / AP

The environmentalists' fears that organized poaching in Africa will increase sharply have, fortunately, not been realized - partly because the rangers continued to patrol many national parks and reserves. However, there is information that outside protected areas, especially in parts of South Africa, hunting could intensify. The villagers are struggling to feed their families, so you can expect that many wild animals, especially antelopes and monkeys, will become victims of hunters.

In some places in Asia, there are also signs of increased poaching, which for local people is often the only way to survive. So, for example, on May 9, a unicorn rhinoceros was shot dead in the Kaziranga Indian National Park - there have been no such cases for more than a year. Three people were later arrested suspected of participating in an international poaching organization. As environmentalists explain, as elsewhere in the world, local poachers pay the poor for illegally hunting pennies, but because of the loss of work during quarantine, they agree to everything.

In neighboring Nepal, a similar situation. According to the government of the country and the Wildlife Fund, with the advent of coronavirus tourism revenues fell sharply, as a result of which more than the previous 11 months were committed in the first month of quarantine of crimes against nature, such as poaching and logging.

In Cambodia, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, in April, the poisoning of three endangered giant ibis, mined for meat, was documented. And there, in Cambodia, in the largest colony of waterfowl in Southeast Asia, more than 100 chicks of the Indian beak, birds of the stork family, were caught.

Камбоджа, недатированное фото: местные рейнджеры утилизируют останки гигантского ибиса. В апреле 2020 года Общество сохранения диких животных сообщило об отравлении трех находящихся под угрозой исчезновения гигантских ибисов
Photo:фото WCS / AP

After markets for wild animals were closed in China, some of the conservationists encouraged by the first success began calling for a global ban on the commercial sale of wild birds and mammals for food. Others believe that you can start with a little - a revision of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): the document needs to be supplemented by strictly prohibiting trade in some of the widespread species that often carry viruses, but are currently not subject to trade restrictions CITES.

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