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Animal poaching is when an animal is killed illegally. It usually occurs when an animal possesses something that is considered valuable (i.e. the animal’s fur or ivory).
Many countries believe that the rhino horn is an important ingredient for many medicines. This is false. Rhino horn has the same medicinal effect as chewing on your fingernails aka none.
In 2012, 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa. In the beginning of 2013, these animals were being poached at a rate of 2 per day.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were a few million African elephants and approximately 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are about 450,000-700,000 African elephants and 35,000-40,000 Asian elephants.
Both African and Asian elephants are now considered endangered.
Typically the largest adults, with the biggest tusks are poached – putting the matriarchs of elephant herds at the greatest risk.
In 2011, there were 13 large-scale seizures of ivory and over 23 tons of ivory confiscated. This is equivalent to at least 2,500 elephants.
Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Korea are just a few countries with markets for horn and tusk.
Bear gall bladders get top dollar for Chinese herbal remedies. And big-horned sheep antlers can fetch $20,000 on the black market.
Tigers are primarily killed to supply underground black markets with its organs, pelts, and bones. These items are highly regarded in eastern medicine (although these treatments have been disproven and have no real medical value.)
In Asia, tiger parts (other than the bone) are used in mythological medicine. This includes: the eyes, hair, internal organs, even tiger penis – which is used in a soup as an aphrodisiac.
A 2010 United Nations report suggests that gorillas could disappear from large parts of the Congo Basin by the mid-2020s.
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