Elephants and rhinos are butchered for their body parts and traded in illegal markets as trophies and traditional medicine. Apes in Central and West Africa are hunted as bushmeat – their orphaned babies sold as pets. Pangolins are captured for their prized scales and sold off by the pound.
Worse than any natural predator, poachers are killing some of Africa's most threatened species at devastating rates. But humans also provide the greatest hope for intervention.
Human-animal cooperation is a critical piece of this puzzle. Across the continent's diverse wild lands, the need to put African people at the center of conservation is vital. And the poaching crisis is a clear example of this.
The people who kill wildlife for monetary gain are usually from low-resource villages with few livelihood alternatives. Crime syndicates recruit and pay them a pittance to commit these bloody crimes. When captured, poachers face fines and prison sentences, while syndicate members hide behind their computers halfway across the world.
It doesn’t have to be this way. AWF's proven track record over 60 years indicates that when communities are prosperous – and that prosperity is linked to healthy wildlife and thriving habitats – recruitment into poaching is much harder. People have more to lose from killing elephants and more to gain by engaging in wildlife-friendly and wildlife-dependent enterprises.
In honor of World Animal Day on October 4, show your commitment to protecting Africa's wildlife – and people. Add your name now and demand a stop to the killing before another innocent elephant is slaughtered, before another rhino lands in a poacher’s crosshairs, before another species goes extinct.