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Tania Sarabia
Professor Lynda Haas
Writing 37
January 30, 2015
Poaching Effects
The number one leading cause of the near extinction of African elephants has become
poaching. Poaching is the act of illegally hunting, usually on land that is not ones own. Those
who engage in the act of poaching, poachers, do so in search for ivory. Elephants tusks are
composed of ivory and that is what poachers primarily care about. The bigger the tusks, the
better. Poaching is rapidly declining the elephant population in Africa. A conservationist and
long-time ranger, Rory Young claims that if the slaughter continues there will not only be
anymore ivory but elephants will seize to exist. Kathleen Gobush, who conducted a research on
elephants with the Center of Conservation Biology of the University of Washington, focused on
the specific of effects of poaching that lead to the decline in the African elephant population.
Poaching is contributing to the extinction of elephants in Africa, but more specifically it is
effecting the social and physiology functions of the elephants.
Elephants are known to have close family ties, just like humans. Poachers target herds of
elephants, they hover on helicopters over a specific area and drop grenades or shoot from up high
with their AK-47s and then come down and slay off their tusks with machetes or axes. Other
elephants have to witness the gruesome killing of other members in their kin and are left
traumatized, says Gay Bradshaw, a psychologist who researches the effects of violence on
elephants and other animals (Young and Hobson). Therefore, the death of a single member of the

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kin has an impact on the family and the community as a whole. Elephants are led by a matriarch,
which means the female is the leader of the family. According to the Kathleen Gobushs doctoral
dissertation research, old matriarchs are particularly vulnerable because of their tusks are
large and their groups were easier to find than solitary adult males (Gobush). Females typically
stay in their families from birth until death. When the mother is poached, babies dont get the
kind of care and mentoring they need and traditionally receive, and are eventually left orphaned
(Young and Hobson). Charles Siebert, from National Geographic, states that orphan infant
elephants are a challenge to raise because they remain fully dependent of their mothers until
about the age of four (Siebert). Without a doubt Gobush, Siebert, Young and Hobson argue that
poaching completely disrupts the traditional social structure of elephants.
Physiologically, elephants are affected negatively due to poaching. Gobush discovered
that there was a connection with the social disruption and the physiology of elephants.
Apparently, stress levels were highest in groups that lacked an old matriarch (Gobush). Also,
the social bonds resulted to be weaker. The increase in stress levels can in a way relate back to
the studies conducted by Bradshaw about the impacts that violence has on elephants, to be
specific a sustained physiological trauma. (Young and Hobson). Bradshaw goes further into
detail and states the similarity humans share with elephants when it comes to cognition,
consciousness, and especially emotion. It appears that, if you look at models of science, says
Bradshaw, elephants and humans really share the same components of structures and the
processes when it comes down to emotions (Young and Hobson). Another conclusion of
Gobushs research was that female elephants who lived near areas where poaching was
historically common had fewer young calves (Gobush). According to Gobush and her research
team their findings on the effects that poaching has on the physiology of elephants will result

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long term considering the fact that very little has changed throughout the years concerning the
social structure of elephants.
All in all, the effects of poaching are the real factors that are leading to the decrease of the
elephant population in Africa. Poachers are unaware that they are negatively and directly
impacting the lives of elephants. The high demand for ivory is destroying elephants social and
physiology functions. Ivory-seeking poachers are failing to look at the long term consequences
for the mass slaughters they routinely plan out. Without elephants there is no ivory, and that is
the big picture that poachers fail to illustrate in their plans. The extinction of African elephants
can be halted if poachers become aware of the serious effects they are imposing on the elephants
population as a whole. Experts have come to a scientific estimate that if poaching continues to
increase in Africa elephants will become extinct by 2020, five years from now to be exact.

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Work Cited
Gobush, Kathleen. "Effects of Poaching on African Elephants." Center for Conservation
Biology. N.p., 2009. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
Siebert, Charles. "Orphan Elephants." - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine.
N.p., Sept. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.
Young, Robin, and Jeremy Hobson. "Psychologist Says Elephants Suffer Post-Traumatic
Stress." Here Now RSS. N.p., 27 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.