When people think of crimes, they most often think of crimes against other human beings, such as murder, robbery, and assault, but crimes can be committed against animals too. These crimes are often cruel acts that are hard to fathom. Currently, one of the most prominent violations of animals is the illegal trade of wildlife, especially the trade of wildlife on the endangered species list. According to Paws for Veterans, the illegal trade of wildlife has increased by 26% in recent years. It is now the fourth largest criminal enterprise in the world, right after human trafficking, drug smuggling, and counterfeiting.
Overall, there are 41,415 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List (list of species), and 16,306 of them are endangered species threatened with imminent extinction. For example, elephants are being poached at a faster rate than they are able to reproduce. In fact, every fifteen minutes an elephant is killed, to the point that 90% of African elephants have been eliminated in the last century. If the problem continues at this rate, by the year 2020 elephants will be extinct. Elephants are not the only animals being affected. For example, one Rhino is killed for its horn every eight hours.
Fortunately, there are organizations working to prevent the extinction of wildlife. Organizations such as VETPAW (Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife) have been created to protect endangered animals. Operation Rhino Shield (a project of VETPAW) created an international team of Army, Marine, and Navy veterans who protect animals from poachers on private reserves. VETPAW, as well as a growing number of organizations, have fully dedicated their lives to protecting animals from savage treatment. Animals do not have a voice of their own, so their only hope is that we, human beings, protect them. If not, our fragile ecosystem will be not only distrupts, but absolutely destroyed. When one animal goes extinct, the balance of the food-web is irreversibly altered. Think of it like the butterfly effect: “A change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.”