In The Tourist Trail, the word bycatch gets tossed around a bit. Fisherman use the word to refer to the marine creatures unintentionally caught in nets and on longlines. Creatures like sharks, whales, and even penguins.
The word has always bothered me in how it trivializes the lives of those unintended targets.
I read yesterday about a horrible incident at a sanctuary at the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Poachers armed with AK47s killed seven members of the organization, burned every building down, and killed 15 okapi.
The poachers weren’t there for the okapi. They were searching for ivory tusks.
The naturalists and the okapi they had fought so hard to protect — they were merely bycatch.
The ivory market is thriving, thanks in large part to China. According to this article:
Last year, some 24 tons of ivory was seized around the world — the product of an estimated 2,500 elephants — making it the worst year for elephant poaching since an international ban on commercial ivory trading began in 1989, according to Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network.
Eight of 10 elephants that die are killed by poachers.
And as this incident so brutally illustrates, elephants are not the only living creatures who suffer.
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is rebuilding. And they need donations. If you’ve got a few dollars to spare, you can donate here.