How the Coronavirus pandemic is encouraging poaching.
Coronavirus is now being linked to the damage of wildlife all over the globe. Here’s how…
As a number of park rangers are unemployed and as there are no tourists, due to COVID-19, there are reports of there being an increase in poaching of wildlife and endangered species, all over the world.
According to wildlife conservation organization Panthera, in Colombia, there are reports of a surge in the poaching of wild cats, inclusive of pumas and jaguars.
It was reported by the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC), that in Vietnam alone, smugglers had access to over 22 tonnes of pangolin scales. WJC stated that this was a result of a ban on the sale of wild animals in China. This has resulted in backlogs in smuggling networks of ivory and pangolin scales across Southeast Asia.
Sarah Stoner, WJC’s director of intelligence said:
“Brokers have made it clear that they intend on returning their operations to previous levels as soon as possible. The stockpiling of huge quantities of wildlife products in many of the key countries concerned presents investigative opportunities for law enforcement.”
Wildlife Justice Commission added:
“A major concern is that poaching incidents may increase during the lockdown period, as criminal networks exploit perceived opportunities of park closures, reduced patrols in protected areas, or the diversion of law enforcement resources to deal with COVID-19 issues.”
In India, there are reports that there is an increase in the poaching of tigers. There are also reports that a number of leopards have been killed in India, during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In Botswana, from the Okavango Delta, government workers are evacuating black rhinos, as in March 2020, 6 of them were killed. The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism said in a statement:
It was “very conscious that poachers may try to take advantage of the lockdown and the lack of movement by tourists in remote areas to carry out their illegal activities”.
Matt Lewis, leader of Conservation International’s work on wildlife trafficking issues in Africa, says:
“In Africa, there has been an alarming increase in bushmeat harvest and wildlife trafficking that is directly linked to COVID-19-related lockdowns, decreased food availability and damaged economies as a result of tourism collapses.”