Illegal hunting of protected and endangered species
Inadequate enforcement against game poaching
Game or fish may be trapped or shot in areas where such rights are either privately owned or specially restricted for conservation reasons. Until the 20th century, most poaching took the form of subsistence poaching by impoverished peasants wishing to augment inadequate diets. The main incentive is now commercial profit which encourages a much more organized approach. It is not just bandit armies anymore that kill endangered species for their own profit; corrupt government officials, members of military forces and high-placed families have become rich through the slaughter of wildlife.
The world's poaching industry is estimated to generate $1.5 billion per year. In the developed countries, poaching is now limited to shooting deer and game birds (pheasant) and fishing (salmon). In Scotland a single small boat of salmon can bring in up to £7,000. In developing countries, poachers operate within game parks. It is almost impossible to police the very large areas, owing to limited manpower. In addition poachers may operate in large highly mobile groups. Continuing reports indicate the existence of poaching gangs in Kenya. These gangs may number as many as 50 persons or more with individual firearms, but also with gang-owned automatic weapons (Bren and Sten guns, for example) which are used to machine-gun protected game. No animals are immune to poachers; for example, ivory from massacred African elephants regularly finds it way to purchasers in Japan and Hong Kong where it brings £200 a kg. Rhinoceros horn retails for £2,000 in Taiwan.
Since 1980 the conflict between poachers and game warden has become ever more deadly, claiming casualties on both sides, but that happens in every war.