Wild animals are having a tough time.
The climate is changing, there is less space to roam, and there are more humans. But there’s one particular problem that is especially cruel and unnecessary – poaching.
“Poaching” is when a person unlawfully kills a wild animal. People are poaching wildlife for many reasons. The type of poaching I want to explore today is capturing or killing an animal and then selling it in what’s called the “illegal wildlife trade.”
Unfortunately, many wild animals end up in this trade. Parrots become household pets. Elephants and rhinos are killed by poachers so that people can buy and use parts of their bodies.
Elephant tusks, or ivory, are used to decorate homes in some parts of the world. While your parents might put a framed family photo on the dining room table, a family across the world has an elephant tusk on theirs.
Rhino horns are usually purchased for completely different reasons. Some people treat them like medicine. They believe they can cure colds and flu by drinking tea made with rhino horn instead of lemon or ginger.
Why would anyone buy something like elephant tusks or rhino horns if it means that animals have to die?
Well, that’s a tough question. Some people choose not to think about poaching wildlife because it is very unpleasant. Others don’t know that by buying certain products, they are part of an international illegal activity that harms animals. For instance, in China, many people think that elephant tusks are like teeth that fall out and grow back. They don’t realise that ivory is taken from dead elephants.
The illegal trade in animals may seem like a faraway problem. We don’t have elephants and rhinos walking around the UK, so why should we worry about what’s happening to them in Africa and Asia? I consider planet Earth my home. I may not get the chance to travel to Africa to see wild elephants, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about what happens to them. Besides, I like to live by the Golden Rule, which means that I treat other people and creatures the way I’d want them to treat me.