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Poaching is big business for some, but deadly for many. Animals are, of course, the main victims. Thousands die at the hands of poachers each year, driving species to the edge of extinction. A relatively small proportion of the animal parts sought - such as horn, ivory, teeth, fins and scales - are considered prestigious objects or are sold in Asia as medicine, even though they have been proven to lack curative powers. But humans are victims too. On one hand, the poachers often don't know who they are working for or why they were hired to kill these animals. Criminals higher up in the food chain exploit desperation linked to poverty. On the other hand, park rangers protecting animals find themselves in direct conflict with armed gangs. In our special focus on poaching, we look at the many facets of this bloody business.


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