Poaching, the illegal hunting and harvesting of animals, has a devastating effect on both the individual species and on entire ecosystems and local communities. Additionally, continued poaching encourages and supports the black market and organized crime organizations that thrive on victimizing animals.
Poachers kill for profit, not for sustenance or community support. In many cases, they do not even require the entire animal, but only parts to be used as trinkets, luxury items or ostensible medicine sources. Such items include elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns, big-horned sheep antlers and bear gall bladders. Because poachers care little for species survival, their hunting often leads to radical decreases in animal populations. In 2013, for example, One Green Planet reported the poaching of around 30,000 elephants in a single year.
Poaching hurts local communities in two potential ways. First, if the animal targeted draws in tourists, its disappearance may harm the local economy. Similarly, possible tourist boycotts intended to end the poaching could have the same effect.
The effect of poaching on individual ecosystems is equally damaging, often unbalancing natural and essential relationships between predators, prey and vegetation. For example, the near extinction of the North American gray wolf due to hunting allowed for an unbridled elevation in the elk population of Yellowstone National Park. The unchecked elk then went on to eat the aspen tree to near extinction. Only when the wolf population began recovering was balance restored.Learn More
Rhino poaching refers to the illegal hunting of rhinoceros in Africa, primarily because of an increase in the demand for a traditional Chinese medicine that is made from the powder of rhinoceros horn. According to Save the Rhino, an animal that boasted a population of more than 500,000 throughout the world early in the 1900s is in danger of extinction, despite aggressive efforts to fight the practice of poaching. In 2011, the Western black rhino was declared to be extinct, primarily as a result of poaching.Full Answer >
Strip mining involves removing the surface layers of earth, called the overburden, in rectangular strips to mine the mineral reserve underneath them. After a strip of ore is mined, another strip is prepared next to it. The waste rock from the overburden of the second strip is used to fill the first one. Typically, coal or other sedimentary rocks that lie near the earth's surface are strip mined.Full Answer >
The Keystone Pipeline brings oil from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in the U.S. Midwest and the Gulf Coast of Texas. The pipeline is owned by TransCanada, who first proposed the pipeline in 2005. It was approved by the U.S. Department of State in 2008 and began operations in 2010.Full Answer >
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration lists agricultural expansion, wood harvest, urbanization and infrastructure creation as the direct causes of deforestation. Converting forested lands for agricultural use is by far the largest cause of deforestation. Conversion to agricultural lands primarily occurs in developing nations and is carried out by subsistence farmers, while other types of deforestation are triggered by economic growth.Full Answer >