The recent finds of rhino horn and pangolin scales in Hong Kong show that the authorities are taking trafficking through Hong Kong seriously. However, this could increase the market price and make the risks of smuggling even more worthwhile for those at the top.

The poachers on the ground who are trying to make a living and are in constant danger are not the main problem, neither are the runners who move the illegal proceeds through borders and ports; they are driven by survival and are at more risk than the big bosses at the top. Those on top are driven by greed; they are not exposed to the risks that the poachers on the ground and the runners take, yet they are the ones making the big money.

To destroy this business, we need to target the bosses and break up the networks from the top. Remove this top level, who are driven by greed and have no regard for human life or our natural world, in their process on making their fortune.

For those on the ground, the poachers and runners, education plays a big part, along with job creation.  We need an education program to instil the importance of wildlife conservation. Teaching the local poachers to become protectors of wildlife and rewarding them for this will help. They will no longer need to put their lives at risk of being killed by animals or by anti-poaching patrols. Giving them access to better ways to make a living will remove this layer from the trafficking organisations.  By making it more worthwhile to do something else for themselves, their family and they will and can Make them the protectors of the wildlife they live with and have lived with for centuries.

Effectively managing the demand and removing the need for status symbols, is incredibly difficult. We should focus on the younger generations and educate them about the need to protect species rather than decimate them. These centuries old beliefs and the need to show off one’s wealth with status symbols and products produced through the slaughtering of wildlife, need to be eradicated.  Surely, in this day and age, we can educate and convince people that finger bails, Keratin won’t solve your medical problems?  We should instead rely on science to create new and effective medicines.  It’s hard to believe that proven scientific facts are being ignored. 

If we don’t stop this slaughter soon, then after the rhino it will be the hippo, and after the hippo, the giraffe and so on. Already lion bones and claws are being sought as alternatives to ivory.  Already hippos are being poached for their ivory. Soon there will be no animals left to slaughter.  Will we only then turn to science?