Wildlife Wednesdays: Increased Poaching During Pandemic | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Increased Poaching During Pandemic

As the pandemic continues globally, conservation societies have warned that they have already seen an increase in poaching. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has already noted that three giant ibis, which is already a critically endangered specie, were poisoned in the Chhep Wildlife Sanctuary of Cambodia earlier this month. Over 100 painted stork chicks were also poached earlier last month at Cambodia's Prek Toal Ramsar site. WCS mentions that these birds were most likely killed for their meat, which was then consumed or sold on the black market. Other areas, such as Europe, have seen an increase in poaching. In Austria, the World Wildlife Federation has reported that over 27 protected birds were illegally killed! Other countries near Austria have also reported illegal bird killings. In Africa, it was reported that at least 6 rhinos have been poached in Botswana ever since the country closed its borders to stop the spread. In South Africa's northwest province, at least 9 rhinos there have also been poached. 

With the current health crisis spreading across the world, many conservancies rely on money from tourism, which is now at a standstill. Loisaba Conservatory in Kenya "has lost nearly half of its operating budget and isn't feasible now to keep its 48-bed safari camp operation open for local travelers," says Tom Silvester, the CEO of the Loisaba Conservatory. With less money, Silvester further mentions that comes with a decrease of anti-poaching patrols and pay cuts. Other conservancies across the world are having the same problem. Less tourism and closed borders mean less money to help keep up the conservancies and patrol these endangered species from poachers. 

The recent rise in poaching is not always a result of criminals, but people who are forced to kill during these times. WCS fears that poaching could grow in the next few months or even years. "Rural people have little to turn to but natural resources and we've already seen a spike in poaching. The continued commitment of conversations to local people in rural areas across the region is more important than ever right now," says Colin Poole, a WCS regional director. Many conservation and anti-poaching organizations are suffering under the pandemic.