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Make Poaching a High Risk/Low Reward Crime

Make Poaching a High Risk/Low Reward Crime

NOTE: This is a guest post from our friends at the African Wildlife Foundation.

Poaching is often referred to as a low risk/high reward crime. In the midst of one of the worst rhino poaching epidemics of all time, we need to turn the poaching risk–reward dynamic on its head.

To date, 235 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone as a result of the growing demand for rhino horn. Currently, the value of rhino horn is worth more than gold, up to $65,000 per kg. Given a surging illegal black market, the time to focus on security and law enforcement is now.

Around 130 poaching-related arrests have been made this year in South Africa, compared to 232 in all of 2011. The increasing number of arrests is promising, but what happens after the arrests are made?

Too often, it seems poachers are acquitted for their crimes. Those convicted face varying sentences, from mere fines to five or more years in prison. In order to make an impact, with arrest and conviction rates and with sentences, there must be strong coordination and interagency cooperation (such as the sharing of intelligence) between countries.

Ultimately, poaching must be treated and prosecuted as an organized crime. Poachers continue to evolve, finding ever more sophisticated methods to obtain their contraband. South Africa has made progress in identifying crime syndicates tied to rhino poaching and in applying the highly punitive laws associated with the prosecution of organized crime. All rhino range states must keep pushing for stiffer penalties, with the goal of presenting a unified front that will deliver serious consequences.

In some recent cases, park and wildlife officials have been suspended for suspected involvement with poachers. Unfortunately, the reality of the lucrativeness of poaching and the current low risk associated is coming to light. Severe consequences must be enforced to deter potential poachers from committing acts of poaching.

Security and law enforcement is just one of the areas rhino range states must focus on the combat escalating poaching rates. Take a look at the comprehensive action plan resulting from April’s Rhino Summit in Nairobi.

Related Stories:

On-The-Ground Fight Essential to Rhino’s Future

We Must Stop Rhino Poaching

Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Photo by Paul Thomson, courtesy of African Wildlife Foundation

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91 comments

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8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Poaching is a crime, do not just go after the poacher, but all those who make money out of this illicit trade! There is more than one involved!

5:47AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

I wholeheartedly agree. As long as poaching remains profitable and lucrative, the species will continue to be attacked. Make it high risk/low profit as is suggested!

3:54AM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

thanks for sharing

10:18AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!

5:35PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Everyone sign up please!

5:34PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Everyone sign up please!

8:04AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

I don't like Poachers or Poaching :-0

7:46AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Signed. I hate poaching!

1:06PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Poaching is not only cruel and unconscionable, it is so criminal i cannot believe that it has been going on as long as it has -- how can society allow these miscreants and savages to continually treat animals in such a savage and despicable and horrific way. Authorities MUST crack down on them and be relentless in doing so -- PLEASE, do it for the animals, do it for our natural environment. These animals have a God-given right to their own lives and we should NOT allow anyone to do and to think differently.

8:40PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

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