What Is Animal Poaching?

Poaching is one of the biggest threats to animal extinction the globe over. While poaching is illegal, it is still something that may not be as easily identifiable for some people. In fact, one of the biggest ways that those who are concerned with the effects of poaching and want to see it stopped can help is by raising awareness. The more you can educate yourself and those in your communities about the realities and dangers of poaching, the more you can utilize your resources to help in this fight.

Joining the ongoing fight against poaching can look like a lot of things from raising local awareness to getting involved in helping promote political figures who value conservation, and donating to various nonprofits. The good news is that while poaching is a very real problem and something that should be taken seriously, there are millions of individuals all around the world who are doing something about it and it’s never too late to join in the fight.

First off, it’s important to understand some key things about poaching. For instance, what exactly is animal poaching and why is it harmful? Is animal poaching an actual threat to species, and does it have wider effects than just those related to possible extinction? All of these questions and more are a great place to start when it comes to learning what animal poaching is, and how to better equip yourself to help fight it.

What Exactly Is Animal Poaching?

Poaching is a term to describe the illegal killing, trapping, or trafficking of animals. There is actually a lot to unpack here because there are certain assumptions about organizations that fight poaching that can be wrong.

For instance, conservation is not arbitrary. In order for the death of an animal to be considered poaching, it had to have violated some ordinance that was protecting it. In some cases, hunting animals – even while in season – on private property can be considered poaching if the individual owners of the property have not given consent. By and large tho, poaching is typically thought of as a violation of governmental law.

These conservation ordinances that project animals have a reason, and they are not simply instated without cause. Humans have continued to grow and take over more and more of the planet, and with that has come considerable damage to natural habitats and ecosystems. In fact, two of the top contributing factors to species extinction are habitat annihilation and climate change. While poaching is a valid, and key player when it comes to species extinction, it actually isn’t the largest one.

Laws and ordinances are put in place to help offset the damage that human civilization has had on nature. These laws are meant to encourage natural species populations to grow and find ways to live as their world is changing around them.

Take for instance animals that have defined hunting seasons. In North America, hunting deer is a major sport, however, this activity is relegated so as to keep the deer population flourishing. Hunting is also not the same as poaching, as hunting has good benefits both to human civilization and to nature itself.

It can be extremely beneficial to hunt certain species of animals that would otherwise grow in population at an invasive rate. This could ruin agriculture and even offset natural ecosystems if not left in check. However, hunting is regulated and monitored in order to keep the animal population’s needs met and not push any legally hunted species to extinction.

Poaching, on the other hand, has no clear benefits to the conservation of nature, or biodiversity.

Why Do People Poach Animals?

This is a wonderful question to understand. Poaching, unlike hunting, has no clear benefit to the betterment of humankind or nature itself. Poaching can be done for certain reasons such as for food or materials, however, modern advancements have made this very rare. Almost all poaching in the modern world is done for monetary gain through the black market.

The unfortunate truth is that animal poaching can be a lucrative industry. Elephant tusks, rhino horns, and even gorilla meat, and tiger fur are all able to be sold at a premium, outlandish prices on the black market due to their scarcity. However, this activity has no real benefit to nature of any kind. The best way that governments can effectively take on the problem of poaching, is by cracking down on the black market and making it hard or impossible to benefit from poaching.


The problem of poaching can seem overwhelming, but there is a lot that individuals can do to help endangered species. The first thing they can do is educate themselves and spread awareness. Not only that but supporting organizations that help to bring reform and protection from poaching is another powerful way that anyone can help join in the global fight against poaching.