Endangered Species and Wildlife Service
Introduction Communities throughout the world are stricken by social injustices. People should start to investigate the issues they see are most important which affect the wellbeing of the community members. In order to truly be free and have a sense of self-worth, people should unite in order to release themselves and others from oppression. Issues of social injustice within a community are important to address in order to ensure the wellbeing of all community members. Poaching, not only affecting animals but also people, is becoming an increasing issue.
Social inequality and social identity play a prominent role within the life of a poacher. It is a social inequality that the majority of poachers in Africa are lower class (The African Poaching Crisis). In return, they have to rely on the black market in order to sell the illegally obtained animals. The demand for ivory has surged to the point that the tusks of a single adult elephant can be worth more than 10 times the average annual income in many African countries (The African Poaching Crisis). Poaching then can become part of a person’s social identity because it is the way that the world begins to perceive them.
The species that I will focus on are African elephants, white rhinos, and the mountain gorilla. There are multiple possibilities for an animal to enter the endangered species list such as, killing for trophies and medicines and the fragmentation and outright destruction of their habitat by people seeking timber and land resources (Multinational Species Conservation Acts). As long as there is a demand for an animal, or its desired traits, illegal hunting of endangered animals will persist. I. Issue Analysis Poaching is the illegal shooting, trapping, or taking of game or fish from private or public property.
People intentionally target animals for reasons such as trophies, medicinal usage, and also for religious practices. Furs, tusks, or even the animal itself is sold illegitimately on the black market. The black market is the illegal traffic or trade in officially controlled or scarce commodities (Poaching American…). Poaching has caused multiple animal species to be pushed closer to the brink of extinction. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 defines “endangered species” to mean “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range (U.
S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Elephants do not have any natural predators but yet their numbers are dwindling because human interference. The large illegal trade in African elephant ivory is the major cause of this decline and threatens the continued existence of the African elephant (African Elephant Conservation Act of 1989). They produce the largest quantity of ivory, which is the main purpose why they are being poached and driven closer to extinction. Since African elephants can produce about 250 pounds of ivory people see ivory as precious (African Elephant Fact Sheet).
People view ivory as a valuable commodity because they satisfy religious devotions. Their tusks are smuggled into countries, mainly in Asia, to be carved into religious artifacts for Catholics, Muslims, Christians, and also Buddhists (Braun). About 470 thousand elephants are alive today (Endangered Species) but their numbers are dwindling. Every year, eight percent, 37,600, of the population is poached (Endangered Species). If the death rate is held at a constant rate, elephants will only be on the earth in slight excess of ten years (The African Poaching Crisis).
The elephant’s defense, their tusks, was the downfall of their species. Over centuries remedies have been passed on to help cure future generations. Rhino horn is believed to treat hangovers, fevers, impotence, and even cancer (The African Poaching Crisis). Although, perceived to do well for the body, rhino horn has not been proven to cure any of the alleged illnesses. Asian demand for rhino horn has set a historic price for rhino horn powder – over $30,000 per pound, making it more valuable than gold and cocaine (The African Poaching Crisis).
Poachers are persistent, because taking parts or the animal itself yields high profit margins. The mountain gorilla is also critically endangered with less than 900 remaining in the wild, and yet poachers do not let up (Endangered Species). Wildlife officials recently observed a surge of infant gorillas for sale on the black market, some ranging to $40,000 (Zerkel). Killing for trophies and taking animals out of their natural environment leads to detrimental circumstances where a keystone species is eradicated and overpopulation occurs in a subordinate species. II. Potential Solutions
Effective practices in order to maintain endangered species are the preservation of the remaining population and the reintroduction of species. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service share responsibility for implementing and enforcing the provisions of the Endangered Species Act with respect to endangered and threatened species of fish and wildlife (U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Preservation of remaining species may be the most prominent step in trying to help the animals. In Africa the mountain gorilla, and a few other primates, may have a future after all.
In 2012 Congressional appropriation of $3. 3 million to the Great Apes Fund was leveraged by $4. 9 million in matching and in-kind funds to support 47 projects in Asia and Africa (U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service). If the last of the species dies, they will merely become a figment of the past. Any person who knowingly violates the Endangered Species Act’s prohibitions regarding the taking of an endangered species, or any permits or implementing regulations issued under the Act, is subject a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation and criminal penalties of a fine, imprisonment, or both(U. S.
Fish & Wildlife Service). As long as there are two animals of different genders, the bloodline of that species will continue. Human intervention is required in order to mitigate the extinction of some animals. The reintroduction of endangered species to their natural habitat is another effective practice to combat dwindling animal populations. When an animal species disappears from its original habitat, it can disturb the balance between predator and prey. If the predator is to disappear, there will be an over abundance of prey which can lead to overgrazing and ecological problems caused by overpopulation.
If the prey disappears, the food chain will be disrupted and animals will die off. Any interference in the food chain affects multiple animals and the cycle of life. The Bureau of Land Management is an example of effective practices for reintroduction and sustainability in New Mexico. The BLM is more about land conservation with minimal hands on experience with the animals (Service Learning). There are more than two dozen endangered black-footed ferrets from New Mexico, Virginia, and Wyoming that were released into the wild in Mexico (Freeman).
The BLM was able to help sustain the black footed ferret population, in western region of the state, by giving the ferret a reliable food source. They would drive to a remote location and implant prairie dogs in existing holes for the ferret to eat (Service Learning). By giving the ferrets a reliable food source the BLM was able to sufficiently feed the population. It takes approximately 100 to 150 acres of prairie dog colony to support one ferret, so as prairie dog populations began to shrink, the black-footed ferret dwindled as well until there were none left in the wild(Black-footed Ferret – WildEarth Guardians).
Loss of habitat to agricultural land is a main reason for the black footed ferret becoming endangered (Service Learning). The BLM moved the black footed ferret to an area of federal land in western New Mexico where it is illegal to hunt, shoot, or trap any animals. The BLM decided to release the ferrets in this area in order to keep the population thriving and to have minimal human interactions. The black footed ferret population is stable and on the track to improvement (Freeman). Despite significant recovery successes, the species is still one of the most endangered mammals in the United States (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
Conservation efforts for the black footed ferret are not effective. Sometimes the prairie dogs have to be introduced manually instead of the population thriving on its own. The prairie dogs come from a breeder in Santa Fe, but they do not always have enough to constantly be supplying the ferrets (Service Learning). The prairie dogs are usually born in captivity which is extensive and strenuous. Recently several new breeders were added to supply the black footed ferret with an adequate amount of food (Freeman). Another issue with the conservation of the black footed ferret is that they cannot be constantly watched.
People may stumble upon the ferrets and the human interaction can cause them to feel stressed or they may even leave the area in search for a more suitable location. The black footed ferrets may thrive again mainly because they are not as publicized as the rhino. In Africa, the Wildlife Refuge of Zimbabwe is trying effortlessly to conserve the native species, particularly the rhino. The park has improved their security system and even hired more rangers. Poachers are normally detoured or caught by the parks first form of defense, which is the security system.
Employing more park rangers has increased the vigilance and care of the species. Sometimes efforts are futile since the rhino population is significantly dropping each year. Poachers still get around the park rangers defenses by using high tech weaponry such as night vision goggles and sometimes as complex of a grenade launcher, provided by crime syndicates and underpaid military(Joy). III. Opportunities for Action and Conclusion Actions that I will take in order to combat the ever growing issue of extinction for endangered animals will be to bring awareness to the community and also hands on work with native species.
I will bring awareness to my community by educating the youth. I will start with the sixth grade class at SVA and teach them about the importance and reasons on why animals become extinct. Children are our future and can be incredibly persuasive especially after realizing their favorite animals could become extinct if actions are not taken. After realizing the problem that animals are facing, students will then hopefully go home and educate their parents. I can also take my presentation to various other locations, informing all ages, and even tell of work I have done and will do for local endangered animals.
In order to preserve local species, I will connect with the Department of Game and Fish and even the BLM. People as a whole make a cognitive decision to maintain animal populations, instead of having an out of sight out of mind thinking, they will no longer be endangered. People have to realize that even though remedies were once perceived to do good for the body, it is scientifically proven that rhino does not cure any of the alleged illnesses. It is unnecessary to slaughter species in order to obtain a single article which, usually ingested, can only be used once.
Normally people will notice that their supposed cure is not working, but many do not. They either buy more and yield the same results, or they will believe that it is working so in return they buy more to supposedly keep healthy. Humans are the main cause for the extinction of animals and we are their only hope for survival through conservation and awareness. The issue, illegal hunting of endangered animals, is becoming an ever-growing problem because animals are being killed faster than they can repopulate.
People realize what they are doing but yet continue because it has become their social identity. Many of poachers are poor locals driven by crime syndicates. They see poaching as a way for high profits but it also comes with high risk. They are willing to deal with the circumstances because they feel like they have nothing to lose. It is a social inequality when people feel like they have to poach because they are discriminated against for their status.