Global rally against devastating wildlife poaching

The last few decades have been deadly for wildlife.  Since the 1970s, over half of all animals on Earth -- mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish -- have disappeared, according to a major analysis by WWF.  And overhunting -- often by illegal poachers -- is one of the biggest reasons.

Mom killed by poachers...

Mom killed by poachers...

In response, there's just been the first-ever global rally against poaching, focusing specifically on the devastation of elephants and rhinos.  In 136 cities and towns across six continents, thousands of demonstrators voiced their strident concerns about this issue.

The rally echoed the stark messages of the WWF Living Planet Report, which assessed the state of 10,380 populations of 3,038 wildlife species across the Earth.

According to the report, the situation is worst in poorer countries, where wildlife numbers have fallen by 58% on average, between 1970 and 2010.  Latin America had the biggest declines, with 83% of all animals lost in the last 40 years.

Some of the most imperiled species include African forest elephants, whose numbers have plummeted by an estimated two-thirds in just the last decade, following a massive rise in poaching for ivory.

Marine turtles have fared just as badly, falling by 80% in abundance in the last 40 years, the report concludes. 

As the situation grows more desperate for many species, some conservationists are beginning to devise innovative tactics in an effort to combat poaching.  For instance, an Australian-led team is using research on human behavior in an effort to modify attitudes toward rhino poaching in Vietnam.

In Kenya, the situation has grown so desperate that shoot-to-kill orders have been given to park ranges in an effort to combat heavily-armed poachers.  Globally, hundreds of park and wildlife rangers have been murdered by poachers in recent years.

The global rally against poaching is an admirable attempt to raise awareness about the critical role of illegal wildlife hunting.  It's come not a moment too soon. 

 

Melbourne woman combats illegal rhino-horn trade

One highly motivated person can have the impact of 10,000.  That's what one must conclude from the story of Lynn Johnson.

Johnson, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, was disturbed by a documentary about the slaughter of rhinos to sustain the illegal trade in rhino horn.  And she was appalled by a WWF report that the illegal trade has skyrocketed by 5000% since 2007.

Let the rhino keep his horns...

Let the rhino keep his horns...

So, despite having no training in wildlife conservation, Johnson set her mind to doing something about it.

Johnson decided to focus on Vietnam, a major consumer of rhino horn, which is a putative treatment for cancer and other ills.  So far she has raised $20,000 to place ads in Vietnamese newspapers and magazines, to fight the illegal trade.

But rather than pushing conservation, Johnson uses a different tack--emphasizing the potential risks for human health.  This is because South Africa has begun putting powerful poisons into rhino horn, to help deter the illegal trade. 

One of Johnson's ads cautions Vietnamese mothers not to risk poisoning their children.  Another warns businesspeople--who often give gifts of rhino horn during negotiations--not to risk sinking their business deal.

Johnson's next goal is to raise $250,000 on Breakingthebrand.org to put similar advertisements in major airports in Vietnam.

As Lynn Johnson is showing us, where there's a will, there's a way.  If rhinos could talk, they'd surely be thanking her.