Poverty drives poaching

Boots on the ground will not solve South Africa’s poaching problem, says criminologist, Cath Jakins, co-organiser of the Durban chapter of yesterday’s Global March for Elephants and Rhinos.

“Everyone rolls their eyes when I say this, and I know it sounds twee, but poverty and inequality need to be dealt with. That is what’s driving poaching. Eighty percent of people living near Protected Areas earn far less than a living age  They are being approached by individuals offering them R15,000 for one night’s work, so they do it,” said Jakins

Currently doing her doctorate in criminology, specialising in poaching, Jakins said her research looked into how people got involved in poaching, why they got involved, and what methods they use to get into game parks.

While security experts have called for tougher military-style action on the ground to combat poaching, Jakins reckons this will lead to a war that can never be won.

“It will turn into a blood bath, becoming more and more violent, with people in communities turning against each other: the rangers and people working in conservation living ostracized within the broader community,” said Jakins.

“Research also show that for every poacher killed, there is another one waiting to go in, because he, too, wants the money,” said Jakins.

She said solving the crisis required creative solutions in generating sources of income and benefits to people through protecting wildlife.

“But how? That is what my research is looking into. When people benefit from wildlife in their area, they will become proud and protective,” said Jakins.

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