Poaching: This is a widely used term to describe an act where a person or persons hunt/kill game animals for a variety of reasons. There is actually a lot more to poaching as it became not only a method to feed a hungry person but a complete commercial industry.
A “subsistence poacher” is someone who targets a relative small animal like a Rabbit or a bird or a small antelope like a Steenbok to feed himself or a family. They usually use small wire snares to catch an animal using a game trail going to or coming back from water. This kind of poacher is not a threat to the bigger wildlife environment as he uses what he catches. If offered employment in a hunting or wildlife area, this kind of poacher usually is a great asset to the employer as he knows the habitat, fauna and flora.
The “commercial poacher” is where things become serious.
There are two kinds of commercial poachers. One is for the “bush-meat” and “witchdoctor” trade and the other is to supply the ivory, Lion-bone and Rhino-horn market of the far-East like China and Vietnam.
To combat these commercial poachers is an everyday battle as they are well equipped and they have lots of support. They use modern weapons supplied to them by criminals who steal it and then sell it to the Poaching-Kingpins to use.
Today in Africa we have highly trained Anti-poaching Units (APU’s) that deploy permanently to safeguard the wildlife in any natural area be it a National Park, Hunting concession or protected area. Even privately owned Game Ranches are targeted by the commercial poacher if it has valuable animals like Rhino, Elephant, Hippo and Lion.
An APU is trained like a small highly mobile Para-military group that must prohibit poaching activity in any given area or follow up on a poaching incident and apprehend the suspects. There are too many aspects in the methods used by both the poachers and the APU’s to describe it all in one article as methods constantly change by both sides of the law as to stay ahead of the other.