Wildlife Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of wildlife targeted by poachers, wildlife traffickers, or sellers of traditional folk medicine.

African Elephants

A herd of African elephants. (PD)

African Bush (Savanna) Elephants & African Forest Elephants

Both species of African elephant present high-value targets for poachers in all regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Even the rare “desert elephants” of Mali are being persecuted.

African Rhinoceroses

Both the white rhinoceros and the much smaller black rhinoceros are targeted for their horns.

Asian Elephants

Although only male Asian elephants typically have tusks, elephant populations throughout the continent are being thinned by sustained poaching of the last several decades and habitat loss. An imbalance in the number of males, who are killed for their tusks, and females is disrupting the ability for healthy females to find mates  and therefore the birthrate is dropping.

Asian Rhinoceroses

All three Asian rhinos are hunted for their horns. These are the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Indian rhinoceros), Javan rhinoceros, and Sumatran rhinoceros.


In Asia several species of bears, with the exception of the giant panda, are illegally hunted for their paws. Some bears, particularly the  Asian Black Bears, Moon/Sun  Bears are also illegally caught and farmed for their bile which  is used by some practitioners of traditional Asian folk medicine.


Different from other big cats, cheetahs suffer from both poaching from their skins as well as live capture for sale  as exotic pets, particularly in the Middle East.


Throughout Africa and Asia the skins of leopards are used by rural communities participating in a traditional lifestyle as well as wealthy individuals purchasing the skins as a fashion accessory or simply to show off the skin in their home. Read more ►

Illustration of a Giant Pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) by Joseph Wolf.

Illustration of a Giant Pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) by Joseph Wolf. (PD)


Otter skins have been an intergral part of the legal fur trade for centuries. However over-hunting and illegal hunting largely for Asian fur markets again threatens several species of otter. Read more ►


One of the most poorly known and understood groups of mammals, the eight species of pangolin across Africa and Asia are being poached in massive numbers to supply Asian practitioners of folk medicine and those who seek a culinary delicacy. Read more ►

Sea Turtles

The world’s seven distinct species of sea turtles are vital to the health of beach and shoreline environments. But they are dramatically impacted by careless trawling, beach destruction, and illegal harvesting of their eggs. Read more►


Asian nations have turned to large-scale captive breeding techniques to supply their commercial farming industry. Today, there are more tigers in captivity in China than in the wild.