What Animals Are Mostly Affected by Illegal Poaching?

Illegal poaching is a global issue that has affected animals and has led to the endangerment of many species. Live animals are captured in native habitats and sold for pets or research purposes, or are killed to have their parts sold for medicines, food, clothing and accessories.

  1. African Elephant

    • Africa's elephant population has declined at an alarming rate due primarily to demand for ivory. In 1977, 1.3 million elephants lived in Africa. In contrast, by 1997, only 600,000 remained. Recently, that number has stabilized in primarily due to a 1990 ban on international ivory sales. Even though it's illegal to kill an elephant in Africa, people continue to slaughter them for ivory.


    • The demand for tiger parts has increased at an alarming rate since the end of the 20th Century. Tigers are killed for their organs, pelts and bones, which are used in Eastern medicine. Tiger skin can be sold up to $15,000, while its remaining parts are valued at $10,000 or more. Tigers are also captured to be used as pets in some countries.


    • Rhinos are at the brink of extinction primarily due to poaching. Rhino horns are used in Eastern traditional medicines and as dagger handles. Rhinos horns have been valued as high as $18,000 a pound, which is more than five times the value of gold. The poachers are extremely advanced in their poaching techniques. For example, they use helicopters, night vision equipment and body armor.

    African Lion

    • The high value of lion head trophies has resulted in a decline in the African lions' numbers. Trophy hunting also threatens the lions gene pool, as killing the dominant male leads to an instinctive behavior in which the subsequent dominant male kills all the young of the previous males.


    • The cheetah population continues to decline due to poaching. A cheetah pelt is considered a badge of wealth for its human owner. Cheetahs are either killed for their skin or captured for its hunting skills.

    Sea Turtle

    • Sea turtles are poached for their eggs, meat and shells. Poachers harvest their eggs either to produce more sea turtles or to be used as a delicacy in some countries. Their shells and skins can be used for jewelry, sunglasses, instruments and wall hangings.


    • Wolves have been hunted for sport and for their skins. Wolf pelts are used to fashion clothes and other items. As of the date of publication, the U.S. Interior Department has proposed that gray wolves be removed from the endangered species list for most of its range, thanks to conservation efforts and a captive breeding program that has reintroduced more than 200 wolves into the wild.

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