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

Photo by Paul Thomson, courtesy of African Wildlife Foundation


Dale Overall

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!

Waheeda Smith
Waheeda E5 years ago

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!

Carrie Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne B5 years ago

thanks for sharing

Tucker T.
Tucker T5 years ago


s a Healy
S a Healy5 years ago

Everyone sign up please!

s a Healy
S a Healy5 years ago

Everyone sign up please!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara E5 years ago

I don't like Poachers or Poaching :-0

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

Signed. I hate poaching!

mari s.
Mari S5 years ago

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.

Shelly Peterson
Shelly P5 years ago

petition signed!