From Academic Kids

For the culinary term see poaching (cooking).
Missing image
A seashell vendor sells seashells which have been taken alive from the water, killing the animal inside. Tourists who buy the shells encourage this form of poaching.

Poaching is illegal hunting or fishing. It may be illegal because:

  • The game or fish is out of season.
  • The animal is on restricted land.
  • The right to hunt his animal is claimed by somebody.
  • The means used are illegal (for example, baiting a field while hunting quail)
  • The animal or fish is protected by law (see for example the Endangered Species Act for the USA)

Note that only animals meant to be hunted can be poached. Stealing or killing domestic animals is theft ("cattle rustling"), not poaching.


Historical aspects

In the middle ages, poaching was a form of hunting unique to the poor, especially during the eras when hunting was a privilege reserved (in Europe) to landowners — and therefore to the richs and aristocrats. In the 16th century, killing a deer (a royal animal) was punishable by death. These privileges were abolished in the French Revolution.

The poor typically hunted small animals such as rabbits (using snares and ferrets). Genuine hunting required weapons, considerable skill and spare time, which the average peasant simply did not have. A peasant was far more likely to kill the lords deer to protect his fields. Still, killing the deer was considered poaching, no matter for what cause. Outlaws could suppport themselves by hunting (the legendary Robin Hood did this all the time).

Threat to wildlife

Organized poaching threatens extinction for a number of species, especially those which have valuable body parts. Some animal parts are valued as ornaments, such as ivory from elephants or skin from tigers. Other parts are valued for use in traditional medicine, particularly in Asia (see traditional Chinese medicine), such as the horn of the rhinoceros, tiger bones and animal genitals.

Animals perceived as dangerous to humans or their livestock, such as tigers and wolves, are also threatened by illegal hunting.

A further kind of poaching is live capture of animals, typically for the pet trade or for use as performing animals. Adult animals may be deliberately killed in order to capture their young, and often, only a small number of the animals captured will survive to be sold [1]. Parrots and other birds, reptiles, primates and invertebrates are common targets for the pet trade. Animals commonly taken as performing animals include monkeys and bears. [1]

See endangered species.

Modern terminology

The verb is also used nowadays to refer to the act of hiring employees which were already employed by another company (especially a competitor) or trying to do so by offering contracts to already employed persons.

See also


  1. The Trade in Wild Animals: A Serious Problem (http://www.zoocheck.com/programs/exotic/KennedyAarticle.shtml)

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