Why Are Zebras Poached?

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read

What Can Be Done About Zebra Poaching?

Poaching is a serious issue facing African wildlife. Animals are often poached, or illegally killed, for their coats or body parts to be sold in other parts of the world. Humans have been poaching zebras in Africa for decades. Now, all three main species of zebras are facing rapid population decline. Informing others about how and why zebras are being poached in Africa can help us in our fight against zebra poaching.

Why Do People Poach Zebras?

All zebras in Africa are in danger, but Grevy’s zebras are currently some of the most sought after among poachers. It is estimated that there are only about 2,800 Grevy’s zebras left on Earth. Poachers prefer Grevy’s zebras, because they are large and have magnificent skins. These skins are used to create luxury items. Their meat and fat are believed to have medicinal properties. Other types of zebras, such as Plains zebras and Mountain zebras are also hunted for the commercial trade of their unique skins.

Poaching is a major reason why zebras are under threat. The Cape Mountain zebra was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1930s, when only about 100 remained. Now, roughly 1,200 to 1,500 Cape Mountain zebras exist in the wild. Just 13,000 Hartmann’s Mountain zebras exist, and Plains zebra numbers hover around 750,000.

Mountain zebras are currently considered vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Grevy’s zebras are considered endangered and plains zebras are currently the least threatened.

Impacts of Zebra Poaching

Poaching has major impacts on African communities and ecosystems, but illegal killing of animals also affects the world. Zebras play an essential role in the ecosystems in which they exist. They’re herbivores that eat stems and old plants as they move from one location to another. These unique animals eat lower-quality, or old growth grasses and leaves. This clears the way for superior grasses and leaves to grow for other animals to consume. It also helps reduce the vegetation that commonly causes or fuels wildfires.

Lions, hyenas and other African carnivores consume zebras as a major food source. Carnivores control zebra populations, while zebras control insect populations by eating the same older plants that insects eat. Certain areas of Africa would have serious problems with insects if zebras were not present. Humans, animals and ecosystems will suffer if zebras are no longer in existence.

How You Can Help?

You can play an active role in stopping the poaching of zebras and increasing zebra populations in Africa. The following are actions you can take right now:

  • Community outreach: Inform others about the poaching of zebras and the important roles zebras play in African environments.
  • Support conservation efforts: Conservation organizations such as International Anti-Poaching Foundation are working to stop zebra poaching. Donating to these organizations can help them succeed.
  • Don’t shop: Refrain from purchasing any products made from zebra skins or other body parts.
  • Report: Report any products made from zebra skin or other body parts to authorities.
  • Encourage protection: Support and promote anti-poaching legislation. Encourage U.S. politicians to take a stand against poaching in Africa.

Putting an end to poaching is a community effort, and your contribution — however large or small — can make a major difference.

What IAPF Is Doing?

We are the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), and we’ve been battling poaching in Africa since 2009. Our conservation efforts are community-led. We bring communities together through employment and educational opportunities that help fight poaching and conserve African wildlife.

Our Akashinga anti-poaching unit consists entirely of women. These warriors against poaching have been carefully trained on how to protect zebras and other African wildlife without the use of violence. Poaching has been reduced by more than 80% in areas where our organization operates. Learn more about this first-of-its-kind, anti-poaching unit by watching our video filmed in conjunction with National Geographic, “Akashinga: The Brave Ones.”

Our LEAD Ranger program is also saving wildlife and transforming the lives of residents. The program trains instructors and crime enforcement leaders to patrol protected lands and fight poaching. This program is held to the highest standards and is ISO 9001-certified.

IAPF is making a major impact on African communities, land and wildlife. Our organization now protects more than 460,000 acres with more than 200 rangers and crew members deployed. Results are a 350% increase in wildlife and an 80% reduction in poaching. Other major impacts include helping communities become more sustainable, promoting gender equality through the empowerment of rural women and more.

You can join us in the fight against poaching and the protection of African wildlife and communities. Become a Guardian and join our community of monthly donors via our website. You can also make a one-time donation in seconds. Every dollar helps in the fight against zebra poaching in Africa and toward the growth of zebra populations.

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