Be aware! The wild is just filled with Evil Poachers willing to murder any human who gets in their way. Poaching means any illegal hunting, but in fiction it is usually associated with the hunting of endangered species, such as cute panda babies or meddling kids.
Many Evil Poachers have no motivation to hunt and threaten people other than to be evil, which puts them on the same level as the various Green Aesop villains who seemingly pollute out of malice rather than because they are manufacturing anything. If Evil Poachers do get a motive, it will probably be selling their prey on the Black Market.
In Real Life, most poachers are poor people trying to get out of poverty; they are unable to afford a license. This is also a major reason why poor poachers will often target endangered animals - the rarity of their parts increases the value. However, they do often shoot at park rangers if they encounter them (they're the reason why most rangers in Africa are heavily armed) and are often hired by people in organized crime (which means media that does acknowledge the average poacher's real circumstances is likely to reserve this trope for the mobsters who hire them). There are some illegal trophy hunters as well, ranging from amateurs hunting without a license and off-season to wanting the glory of getting a rare animal.
The inversion, Roguish Poacher, is most common in older works, particularly fairy tales and Folk Music. The Roguish Poacher always hunts for food (usually for his starving family) and lives in a Peter Rabbit-vs-Farmer MacGregor kind of relationship with the Evil Fatcat Landowner. If the two do come into conflict, expect Evil Versus Evil to come into play. Compare Karmic Thief.
Subtrope of Classical Hunter. A sister trope to the Egomaniac Hunter. Compare with Cruella to Animals. Contrast the Hunter Trapper, who hunts and traps legally and is much more likely to see reason; the Roguish Poacher, this guy's Justified Criminal counterpart; and the Great White Hunter, the heroic counterpart.
- Doraemon: Nobita and the Kingdom of Clouds has a band of poachers arrested by the Sky People while they're slaughtering a family of elephants in Africa. These poachers managed to escape custody, steal one of the Sky People's transports, and later hijacks a powerful WMD from Doraemon intending to destroy the Kingdom of Clouds out of spite.
- Viper Snakely in Kimba the White Lion. Known as Hamegg in the original manga.
- Lyrical Nanoha - One of the reasons why the Time-Space Administration Bureau's Frontier Nature Conservation Corps exists is the presence of poachers who disregard the nature protection laws. One of them even tried to put a bullet between the eyes of a 13-year-old officer when she arrived to arrest him in StrikerS Sound Stage X. Granted, said officer was patrolling the grounds on a giant dragon and had a partner who could deflect bullets, but still...
- Shaman King - Horohoro runs into a trio of poachers. This horrible encounter changes his whole perspective on life.
- Pokémon: The Series - Since the setting of the series involves people catching many creatures for various reasons (most often to use in official sports competitions or as pets and companions) as a way of life, it has to designate its Evil Poachers differently:
- An easy way to spot a poacher is if he is using any tools beyond a Poké Ball, such as nets or cages. If he is using a Poké Ball, is it a regular Poké Ball or a modified one that never misses its capture (like Mewtwo's balls (though he wasn't specifically an Evil Poacher) or the Dark Balls (which brainwashes captured Pokémon and turns them into fighting machines) used by the Iron Masked Marauder)? Are they attempting to capture more than one Pokémon of a certain type at a time, outside of a designated Safari Zone? And most obviously, does the targeted Pokémon clearly already belong to someone else?
- Team Rocket often poaches, for example in the Safari Zone episode. There was also a trio of poachers that caused Larvitar to be separated from its mom, and the one Team Rocket fought who was capturing Poison-type Pokémon in this way; Arbok and Weezing were let go to help them when the Pokémon were freed.
- However, most poachers shown capture Pokémon to sell them illegally, which fits in with the real life version of poaching. An episode of the series actually showed this a tad lighter by having a poacher reform.
- The character who most closely follows the traditional "evil poacher" mold, even more than Team Rocket, is probably Pokémon Hunter J from the Diamond and Pearl seasons. She had a device that could turn Pokémon -- and people -- into living statues to sell on the black market, repeatedly tried to kill Ash, and was the first recurring character in the anime to be Killed Off for Real. She's so ruthless and evil that even Team Rocket are afraid of her.
- One episode of the XY anime has an example that actually ends up Leaning on the Fourth Wall a bit. The episode's villain, Dolan, is a poacher who specializes in smuggling Vivillon and its pre-evolutions, as Vivillon have varying wing patterns that are sought after by collectors. In the games, Vivillon's wing pattern depends on the real-life part of the world its pre-evolutions were found in (i.e. the Modern pattern being located in the central/southeastern United States); naturally, there are plenty of collectors out there willing to do whatever they have to do in order to get all the patterns, much like the collectors Dolan caters to.
- Toriko has these by the dozen, since certain foods could be hunted to extinction, but the most dangerous of these are the Gourmet Corp.
- Dragon Ball Super: Android 17 is revealed to be working as a ranger on an island sanctuary for endangered species, so his primary enemies are some (distressingly well-armed) poachers. In the episode in which Goku visits to recruit him for the Tournament of Power, some alien poachers also show up, leading to 17 and Goku to team up to defeat them.
- Evil poachers killed Sable's family in Jon Sable, Freelance, starting off his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Col. Werner Dachsund in Proof hunts cryptids (the extremely endangered species that the protagonists' organization, The Lodge, exists to protect) for sport and eats them. Many cryptids are sentient, which doesn't deter him in the slightest. In fact, his main goal in the arc is to hunt the Lodge's star agent, John Prufrock (a.k.a. Bigfoot).
- Modesty Blaise:
- The dolphin hunter Gaspar in the arc "Dossier on Pluto".
- The poachers in "Million Dollar Game".
- A common foe in Jungle Jim.
- Evil poachers were a common foe in Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.
- In Shaman's Tears, the first criminals Joshua Brand stops after gaining his powers were poachers who were stealing wild horses from the Indian reservation to sell for pet food.
- Animal Man joined Ra's al Ghul in Injustice 2 to save the endangered animals of the world because he brutally murdered a group of Evil Poachers who killed the last rhino in Cameroon.
- The Punisher once runs into two of these guys while rescuing a Mafia don from a South American prison camp so the don can call a meeting, ensuring Frank can kill a crapload of Mafia higher-ups. We know they're evil because they spend a page explaining, to each other, that they will torture whatever animal they caught in their nets before selling it to the highest bidder.
- Robin: In addition to making snuff films Amsel Reiniger is also credited with tracking and personally causing the extinction of multiple endangered species for fun. He also filmed himself doing that and sold the videos to make a profit of it.
- The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Just in case it wasn't already clear that the woman is not nice just from her gleeful murder of hundreds and willingly allying herself with the Nazis Priscilla Rich's home is full of animal trophies from her safari exploits, most of which are of endangered animals.
- Clan Fletching in The Tainted Grimoire has been poaching creatures for profit. One of them decides to cooperate with the authorities when told that his daughter, for whom he is doing this, might not be able to look at him should she discover what he is doing. The other two, however, play this completely straight.
- Every time Jake England, EVIL POACHER shows up in Dave Stdider Pokemon Traner he is literally called this.
- The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: The sequel Picking up the Pieces mentions that they exist and target the star beasts, whose numbers have greatly decreased with magic's failing (though its return has helped them a great deal). Preventing this is one thing that Tizoc and King Well Banded can agree on.
- Dialogue in the outtakes for Episode 10 of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged implies that Alucard ate one of these.
You killed the last white rhino?! ...Hope the boner was worth it, ya fuck.
- Gaston from Beauty and the Beast has some attributes of this trope combined with his general nature as an Egomaniac Hunter, though it's hardly the worst thing about him. It's universally suggested by fans that he's the hunter who shot Bambi's mother, as her head was seen mounted in a cameo during his song.
- The Rescuers Down Under brings us Percival C. McLeach, voiced by George C. Scott. Did we mention he has a scope shotgun? Now there's a guy who loves to see the faces of his victims before he riddles them full of holes. He also sings this jolly-sounding but macabre song while he drives back to his camp in a giant truck he built himself:
McLeach: Home, home on the range! Where the critters are tied up in chains! I cut through their sides, and I rip off their hides! And the next day I do it again! EVERYBODY!
- The overall Big Bad of Rio is a poacher named Marcel. However, he's played rather realistically in that while he's a bad guy, he's not an outright evil sadist who loves hurting animals; he's just greedy and uncaring about the animals' well-being. He poaches to get money, not because he likes to see birds suffer. That particular personality trait is given to his pet cockatoo and Dragon-in-Chief, Nigel, instead.
- Clayton from Disney's Tarzan, like Gaston, combines attributes of the Evil Poacher and the Egomaniac Hunter.
- Charles Muntz from Up.
- The villains of The Wild Thornberrys Movie are Evil Poachers. They're also perfectly willing to kidnap and murder kids just to be able to keep poaching endangered African wildlife.
- Alaska: Perry is a poacher who sells skins for profit and, during the film, intends to capture a polar bear cub alive to sell to rich clients.
- In Anaconda, Paul Sarone is a Paraguayan former priest who decided to become a snake poacher in the Amazon instead, capturing them for rich clients. It's revealed that he's been manipulating the whole crew from the beginning and was using them to capture the Anaconda.
- Tarzan and His Mate involves Arlington and Holt, who expect Tarzan to lead them to an Elephant Graveyard. It's debatable as to whether they count as this at the beginning, since ivory harvesting wasn't illegal at the time, but Arlington surely qualifies as he tries to murder Tarzan after Tarzan brings a stop to the expedition. The film certainly views ivory harvesting as Evil Poaching, as Tarzan and Jane return all the ivory to the graveyard at the end.
- Inverted in Crocodile Dundee — the title character is a "croc poacher".
- Dundee's job was actually to catch dangerous crocodiles that represented a threat to humans. However, in the first movie, this trope is played straight with a group of poachers who are illegally spotlighting kangaroos for fun before Dundee uses a kangaroo disguise and a high-powered rifle to turn the tables on them.
- Ricketts, the Big Bad in A Far Off Place, is running an illegal trade operation around the export of ivory. He has the protagonists parents murdered because they were investigating the operation.
- Mighty Joe Young: The main bad guys in the 1998 remake. Distinctly averted with Gregg O'Hara, who captures animals humanely, only takes blood samples and then releases them, despite the desires of some of the hunters he works with.
- Jumanji: Van Pelt the hunter, although he preferred to hunt the deadliest of game.
- In Fair Game, the villains are a gang of kangaroo poachers who illegally sell the meat to the dog food industry.
- Tremors 5: Bloodlines: Erick Van Wyk poses as a representative of South Africa's Wildlife Ministry to get Burt to capture an Assblaster for him. He and his associates are actually poachers who want to sell the creatures for a profit.
- The main antagonists of Blastfighter are a bunch of poachers who kill deer for profit.
- In Mistress of the Apes, Thurston is secretly the head of the largest poaching ring in Africa. He hires two local poachers, Brady and Sikes, to kill the other members of the expedition so they do not discover his secret.
- Joey (1997) has the Kanga-Catcher, who captures kangaroos from the outback to force them to box in an underground gambling operation.
- In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Ken Wheatley is revealed to be a poacher-for-hire working for the Big Bad Eli Mills who wants to steal the dinosaurs and sell them on the black market, when he betrays the main characters and leaves them for dead on the island.
- Island (2000) by Gordon Korman - the poacher villains in the second and third books are pretty evil. They are ready to kill a starving, shipwrecked 14 year old who is willing to keep quiet until they realize he's worth a ton of money.
- Malevil has Wahrwoorde. He forced this family to live in backwards squalor in a swamp, is cruel to his son and mother-in-law, raped his stepdaughters, and plots to murder the inhabitants of Malevil to steal the castle stronghold for himself.
- In the fifth Trixie Belden book, Mystery Off Glen Road, Trixie and Honey think there's a crazy, unicycle-riding poacher poaching the deer in Honey's father's game preserve.
- Subverted in Old Tin Sorrows, in which a butchered fawn is discovered on the Stantnor estate and thought to be the handiwork of a poacher. Even a war-hardened veteran is dismayed that anyone would hunt such a young animal. It's actually a ruse staged by a serial murderer to lure some of the estate's staff onto a wild goose chase.
- Although not blatantly evil, Quint from the novel Jaws outraged his companions when he revealed he'd illegally killed a pregnant dolphin.
- Damon Kronski from the Artemis Fowl series leads a faction called the Extinctionists, which aims to hunt as many endangered species as possible to extinction. They claim that their reason for doing this is to make humans re-channel the resources they spend on preserving endangered animals into improving the lot of their own species, but Artemis considers them a collective of bored, rich snobs who consider killing to be just another form of entertainment they can buy.
- Jorinella, the villain of the children's book Birdsong by Gale Haley, is one of these. She takes advantage of the title character (an orphan girl who has the ability to speak to birds) to boost her bird-trapping operation, but once Birdsong frees all the birds she is finally defeated when the birds Zerg Rush her. We never see her actually kill anything, but she's a surprisingly dark character for a kids' picture book.
- Roland Smith's eight-book Cryptid Hunters continuity, consisting of the Jacob Lansa trilogy, Sasquatch and the Cryptid Hunters quartet, regularly features poachers. During the first Jacob Lansa book, Jacob witnesses another man who tries to get the poachers to change their ways by severing the tusks from elephants in a humane way that allows them to grow back and be harvested again at a later time (in real life this is impossible due to the way tusks grow), but the poachers prefer the old method of just killing the animals anyway.
- The Stuart Gibbs Fun Jungle novels feature several such characters, although its also subverted on one occasion when a character who appears to be one of these was merely hired by the park owner to chase away a wild mountain lion without harming it, and said hunter ends up saving the narrators life.
- Meg Langslow Mysteries: The victim of The Penguin Who Knew Too Much is a zoo owner suspected of illegally letting trophy hunters kill his (endangered) animals while their trapped in cages and don't have a chance to escape. Even the local hunters view this practice with utter contempt. In a twist, it turns out the victim was innocent and was killed when he caught the real poacher in the act of stealing one of his animals.
- Elizabeth Honey's Remote Man has Frank Laana, who poaches anything he can sell on the black market up to and including bear cubs, and has no qualms about killing animals he can't (the bears' mother).
- Rick Brant: Cunner, a henchman from Sea Gold, is locally despised for his illegal and unethical fishing methods.
- In The White Bone, humans massacre entire families of elephants and saw off their tusks, preventing them from entering the afterlife.
- The villains of The A-Team episode "Skins". They're interested in hunting down the animals on an African preserve for the money, and they're not afraid to shoot any human who gets in their way either.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a guy who hunted werewolves for their pelts. Werewolves are dangerous monsters indeed, but the fact that they're human most of the time (including if they die, meaning this hunter had to be skinning them alive) gave Buffy motivation to stop him.
- In the episode Trapped of Dinosapien a pair of poachers that are the Villain of the Week arrive in forest and illegally set up traps and try to capture Eno.
- Countless episodes of MacGyver (1985).
- Lost Tapes - Both the Hunter variety and the Animal Trafficker variety are featured. Both get a Karmic Death from the series featured Cryptids. Though for the later, the monster also kills one of the people breaking into the storage facility where illegally imported animals are kept.
- Several episodes of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo deal with people trying to illegally kill or capture park animals, including Skippy.
- Probably the most common sort of bad guy encountered in Daktari.
- Justified had alligator poaching as one of the major occupations of the Crowe family, a Bandit Clan of smugglers and hijackers with branches in both backwoods Kentucky and the Florida Everglades. Eldest brother and family patriarch Daryl Crowe Jr. initially went to jail for alligator poaching and came out a much more dangerous man for it, while his nephew Kendal, the youngest Crowe, notes that gator poaching is the first criminal act that his uncles forced him into. Cousin Dewey, whom we meet before the others, still wears a necklace of alligator teeth that have been in the family for years.
- Badger: "It's a Jungle Out There" involves a venison poaching ring and a birds' egg raider. The cases coincide when the 'egger' is poisoned by the poached venison, exposing the poaching ring.
- Harrow: In "Aegri Somnia" ("Hallucinations"), the Body of the Week is a local ranger, murdered when he uncovered a poaching ring run by his boss that is poaching rare aquatic species from the local waters and selling them to overseas collectors.
- Inverted with the traditional English folk song "The Lincolnshire Poacher".
- And in "Longdog" by Show Of Hands, inspiring the band's Fan Community Nickname. A longdog is a variety of sighthound popular with hare- and rabbit-coursers, and the hero's ownership of one is used as circumstantial evidence to send him to jail.
Got a four-wheel pickup and a shotgun.
Never bought a meal in my life.
I go shopping with a lamp and a knife.
I got a longdog. I am a poacher.
- Inverted in Robin Hood: most of the poachers in the stories were often starving peasants who are forced to intrude on the King's gaming grounds in order to feed their families. Most of the Merry Men were poachers whom Robin saved from hanging.
- Indeed, many of the earliest game-management laws (which are Older Than They Think, going back a few centuries) were instituted not for conservation purposes, but because greedy landowners hunted for recreation and didn't want the peasants to have their own wild game.
- The "Kiliminjaro Safaris" ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom features these as antagonists who are chased off after a pursuit. Early versions of the ride featured the poachers being captured by a cast member portraying a warden. Prior to opening, cast previews featured a Downer Ending where the poachers successfully slaughtered an elephant, whose corpse is seen by the riders; this was eliminated due to poor reactions from families and children.
- Many baddies in the first half of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs are this, most prominently the Butcher.
- Stella the Turtle Poacher, the Evil Counterpart to Turtle Tamer characters in Kingdom of Loathing.
- The bad guys of the Beat 'em Up arcade game Growl are the ironically-named Rendow Animal Protection Organization (RAPO), and they are led by a giant alien millipede who wants to use the animals as food for its species.
- The Poacher from Jade Cocoon who you can fight three times. Thankfully, even though he demands you hand over your Mons if you lose, he doesn't actually steal them if you do.
- Maxim Slaughter, the villain in EcoQuest 2. His room is full of various endangered animal trophies.
- Light Fairytale: In Episode 1, a soldier attempts to capture a tallcat in order to cut off their tail and sell it. The fact that there's a market for tallcat tails and that tallcats are almost extinct implies he's not the only one doing this.
- In World of Warcraft, Hemet Nesingwary thinks of himself as more of a Great White Hunter, but his followers in Wrath of the Lich King take it Up to Eleven and become hilariously over the top Evil Poachers.
- MapleStory has monsters called Evil Poachers in one of the Grand Athenaeum scenarios, who hunt and capture fairies to sell them. Along with grave robbers who also plague the fey lands, these villains are one of the reasons Ephenia hates humans and later decides to ally herself with the Black Mage.
- Grok in Heroes of Might and Magic V, a minor demon lord and favored minion of Kha-Beleth the Demon Sovereign. When he isn't leading his master's armies into battle, his main duty is scouting Ashan in search or rare, exotic and/or magnificent beasts to capture alive, transport to Sheogh, and slaughter for his master's amusement.
- Captain Planet villains sometimes fall into this:
- Looten Plunder is an Evil Poacher who is also an Evil Capitalist.
- Later, the Planeteers and Captain Planet deal with an Egomaniac Hunter/Evil Poacher family known as the Slaughters, led by Mame Slaughter and Stalker Slaughter. The Slaughters even team up with Looten Plunder in one episode.
- Hoggish Greedly is also an evil poacher, to a lesser extent, because he seeks out endangered and rare animals as much as he does common ones.
- Dragons: Riders of Berk: By the time Race to the Edge begins, Hiccup and company begin encountering dragon hunters who know dragons as well as they do, have equipment capable of neutralizing dragon abilities with ease, and see them as a threat to their business. The rest of the series is a war against the increasing threat level of the hunters, who make it clear that they'd make dragons go extinct just for the gold it would bring them.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, Bart gets an elephant as a part of a radio contest. The elephant becomes a handful so Homer agrees to sell him to an ivory dealer named Blackheart. When Bart and his elephant run away during the night, Homer at first thinks Blackheart took them both. He yells out the window: "That wasn't part of the deal, Blackheart! THAT WASN'T PAAARRRT!!"
- Another episode had the family going on a trip to Africa and meeting a Jane Goodall Expy. She convinces them to help her defend her chimpanzee sanctuary from a group of Evil Poachers. The trope gets flipped when it turns out that they are with Greenpeace and are trying to free the chimps from her diamond mine. She admits that she snapped, then buys everyone off with diamonds from her illegal chimp-slave diamond mine.
- The Transformers plays this trope completely straight with Lord Chumley in the episode "Prime Target". Not only does he poach rare animals, but also apparently top secret Russian planes and Transformers.
- Gnawgahyde, one of the Dreadnoks from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
- Bull Gator and Axl from Taz-Mania, for a sufficently low value of 'evil'. They claim they are only doing it to bring happiness to the zoo-going children of the world.
- Regis Stone for Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist. He is an Egomaniac Hunter who will wipe out the last of the species for the thrill being the one to do so, and doesn't care what laws he breaks in the process.
- Kai and Jinora run afoul of a group of Sky Bison poachers in Season 3 of The Legend of Korra. They capture baby bison for transport back to Ba Sing Se, where they're usually used for meat. Fortunately for the kids and the bison, the rest of the new Airbenders and the herd of adult bison come to their rescue.
- The Deep: Sebastian Conger, the multimillionaire collector of rare species, who will stoop to any level to acquires species for his collection.
- Mitch and Tiffany from the second season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous who claim to be eco-tourists and are revealed to actually be trophy hunters who came to Isla Nublar to shoot the islands dinosaurs.
- Phineas and Ferb: Mitch, an alien criminal who abducts rare creatures from across the universe. His attempt to add Phineas and Ferb (plus Isabella) to his collection brings out Candace's Big Sister Instincts.
- The Rainbow Rangers deal with a poacher in one episode, who's after a mama elephant for her tusks and the baby to sell to a circus.
- Bounty Hunter Rongruffle the Huntress from the Wander over Yonder episode "The Bounty."
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) has Marlin, an Egomaniac Hunter who pursues Leatherhead and the Turtles as his new big game prey in the sewers. Armed with all sorts of high tech weapons and traps, he's eventually dealt with by Leatherhead.