Why don't ivory and horn poachers use tranquilliser darts?

I mean, would there be such outrage if they shot elephants and rhinos with tranquilliser darts, then sawed off the tusks and horns? Plus, of course, they’d keep the population alive to sire the next generation.

I’m sure poachers have been caught, so has this question been asked?

Tranquilizers, contrary to what you see in movies, take time to take effect. Poachers don’t have hours to sit around and wait. It’s much quicker and safer for the poacher to use bullets. I’d assume tranqs are also more expensive and harder to come by.

Because it’s a hit-and-run operation, and they don’t want to stick around to make sure the animal survived. Tranqing large animals is risky enough in the hands of professionals.

Sometimes it’s done by the pros though- then they sell the horns/ivory to pay for herd management.

Because they don’t give a shit about sustaining the animals they’re exploiting. They want to make money as fast as they can and avoid the authorities.

Are you sure about that? Because selling ivory seems like a great way to sustain interest in the trade and encourage continued demand (which will then be met by poachers).

I’ve heard of professionals tranq’ing animals to remove their ivory so that poachers won’t have an incentive to kill them, but I was always under the assumption that the ivory so collected was destroyed, as is claimed in this news video.

Unfortunately I had also heard that poachers also slaughter these ivory-free animals out of spite. :frowning:

Because it can cost more than a normal rifle, and sometimes they can’t even afford that -using homemade shotguns instead.

Not to mention risk - waking up during sawing could be interesting.


Possibly. On the other hand, a reliable, ample legal supply could also have the effect of (hopefully severely) depressing prices, thereby eliminating the incentive to poach in the first place. NPR’s “Planet Money” had a short piece on this w/r/t rhino horn recently.

It’s possible I’m remembering something from the past that is no longer customary.

The is also another problem-you don’t magically receive the powers of the slain animal if the animal isn’t slain.

Why is there even still a market for stuff like rhino horn, when drugs like Viagra actually work?

Because tranquillisers are controlled substances, and it would be illegal for poachers to get them.

Because people all around the world continue to believe in woo.

I believe that in order to get all the rhino horn that’s marketable, they use a chainsaw and the rhino wouldn’t be viable after such a serious injury even if it had been tranquilized. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the same would be true of an elephant.

As mentioned above, these people don’t care about what anyone thinks, or about the animals. They just want what they can sell, as fast and cheaply obtained as possible. They don’t even worry that they’re ruining the future harvest by killing the creatures that are providing their income. Quick profit and staying alive are the only criteria.

They might also require refrigerated storage to stay effective for very long. Not always available.

People who remove the tusks without killing the elephants often do a bad job, yes. It causes infections and other problems since, after all, it’s amateur dental surgery.

Actually, a chainsaw is what’s used by game keepers who dehorn rhinos to protect them from poachers, too. I’ve seen video of the process. Rhino horn is simply keratin. Removing it (under tranquilizers) is no more painful or dangerous to the rhino than clipping your nails.

Elephant tusks, on the other hand, are teeth, complete with living tissue, nerves, and blood supply. It’s a very different thing.

Why don’t car stereo thieves open the lock rather than smash the window? Because they’re thieves and don’t care about the consequences of their actions.

Poachers don’t give a shit about the animals they poach. Otherwise they wouldn’t be poachers.

I’ve also seen footage of rhinos that were cut with chainsaws by poachers, and the commentary said that the injuries were fatal even in cases when the gunshots were not. I wish I could find a cite, so this is just my recollection and we can’t take it as gospel. (snicker)

Also because there are still many places in the world where access to a medically licensed doctor, never mind prescription medication, is a luxury that few can afford. Both in terms of money and in the distance necessary to travel to get it. The guy giving you powdered rhino horn IS the village doctor.

I would think, though, that regardless who does it, that releasing a de-horned / de-tusked animal back into the wild would seriously hamper its ability to survive. These are their tools of defense.