It is called poaching when someone hunts or fishes when they are not allowed to do so. Wild animals are often owned by someone who owns the forest or area where the animals live. The state can also be the owner of these animals. Anyone who hunts these animals without permission is liable to prosecution, as are other thieves.
Already in the Middle Ages, there was a dispute about who was allowed to hunt. For a long time, the nobility had the privilege of hunting. Foresters and master hunters were hired to look after the game as well. Other people, on the other hand, were severely punished for hunting.
Even today you can’t just hunt like that. Apart from who owns the game, you have to consider the closed season, for example. During this time no hunting is allowed at all.
What’s wrong with poaching?
In some novels and films, poachers are smart, honest people. They must hunt to feed their family. In the Romantic era, they were sometimes seen as heroes doing things that didn’t please the rich and powerful.
In reality, however, poachers have often murdered forest rangers when they were caught hunting. In addition, many poachers did not shoot the game quickly but set traps. When hunting with traps, the caught animals remain unnoticed in the trap for a long time. They starve or die in agony from injury from the trap.
Poaching also occurs in Africa. There, some people hunt large animals like elephants, lions, and rhinos. They also go to national parks, where such animals are supposed to be specially protected. Several animal species have become extinct due to poaching. Elephants are killed by poachers to sew off their tusks and sell them as ivory for a lot of money. The same thing happens with rhinos, whose horns are worth a lot of money.
That is why one tries to prevent the poachers from being able to sell these parts of animals at all. So poaching should no longer bring them any benefit. If tusks are found by poachers, the tusks are taken away and burned.