Covid-19 and Poaching

Covid-19 and poaching

How this pandemic temporarily stopped unnecessary killings of wild animals.

So, at this point, it’s pretty much not news anymore that Covid-19 has positively affected our environment and slightly slowed down the effects of global warming.

According to European Environment Agency:

· greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced,
· air quality has improved drastically,
· noise pollution in bigger cities has been reduced,
· ground vibrations generated by human activity (from road traffic, industrial activities etc.) have been reduced as well.

But did you know Covid-19 greatly impacts wild animals as well?

According to BBC’s article Rhino poaching in South Africa falls during Covid-19 lockdown and a report from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fishery of Republic of South Africa, there were less rhinos killed by poachers in 2020, which they say it’s partly the result of Covid-19. Since lockdowns played a big role in activities of poachers and smugglers, the number of poacher activities dropped by 21.9%, and the number of rhinos killed dropped by 33% (compared to 2019).

Chart of rhinos killed in 2020, compared to 2019. Source:

The number would have been even lower, if it weren’t for the easing of lockdown restrictions in December of 2020.

However, experts say they are aware this was just a temporary pause and that they need to address the factors that enable poaching (such as corruption).

Jani Hall reports for National Geographic that:

“Poachers sometimes kill or capture animals to sell them locally or for the global trade in wildlife. Wildlife trading is a major black market that has increased alongside rising wealth in Asia — a major consumer of wildlife — and the advent of e-commerce and social media websites.”

This of course, threatens many species with extinction and impacts the whole ecosystem.

Why is it important to talk about these things?

Even if this is happening far away from our eyes, it’s important to acknowledge the issue, to understand that it affects us all. It harms wildlife, it endangers a lot of precious species, crucial to the whole ecosystem. So it’s not only a reflection of unnecessary killing and the dark side of humans, predominated by an idea of money and wealth, but it affects our lives, too.

According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation, wildlife is very much important for the people; it’s a reflection of the health of our environment, it’s important for sustaining natural processes, for science and even for economy.

“Wildlife and wildlife habitat play a vital role in the ecological and biological processes that are essential to life itself. The functioning of the biosphere, and hence the maintenance and enhancement of human life, depends on countless interactions among plants, animals, and microorganisms,”

points out Canadian Wildlife Federation.

We should be happy for the lower number of unnecessary animal kills, but it’s sad we needed a global pandemic and a worldwide chaos to finally start thinking about how our actions have consequences. To finally realise how, in fact, we are the opposite of indestructible, despite our egoistic thinking that we are above other living creatures.

And I know everyone wants things to go ‘back to normal’ when we successfully seize this pandemic. But can we keep some positive aspects of it, can we start showing the animals of this planet the respect they deserve and not treat them as mere objects?


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