Poaching has traditionally been defined as the illegal hunting, killing, or capturing of wildanimals, usually associated with land use rights.Until the 20th century, mostly impoverished peasants poached for subsistence purposes, thus supplementing meager diets. By contrast, stealing domestic animals (as in cattle raiding, for example) classifies as theft, not as poaching.Since the 1980s, the term "poaching" has also referred to the illegal harvesting of wild plantspecies.In 1998 environmental scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst proposed the concept of poaching as an environmental crime, defining any activity as illegal that contravenes the laws and regulations established to protect renewable natural resourcesincluding the illegal harvest of wildlife with the intention of possessing, transporting, consuming or selling it and using its body parts. They considered poaching as one of the most serious threats to the survival of plant and animalpopulations. Wildlife biologists and conservationists consider poaching to have a detrimental effect on biodiversity both within and outside protected areas as wildlife populations decline, species are depleted locally, and the functionality ofecosystems is disturbed.
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