Rhino Poaching

Sun May 20, 2012 9:55 am

SA considering rhino horn trade, minister says
2012-05-02 22:46

Cape Town - South Africa is considering whether to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn, Environment Minister Edna Molewa told MPs on Wednesday.

Opening debate in the National Assembly on her department's budget, she said this included engaging "major role players, including international and regional partners [and] potential consumer states".

Molewa's remarks come 10 months ahead of the 16th congress of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), set to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in March next year.

According to reports, South Africa is sitting on an estimated 20-ton stockpile of rhino horn; some of it in private hands, some stored by conservation authorities.

The price of the horn, should the Cites moratorium on trade be lifted, has been estimated at more than R500 000/kg.

Molewa has declined to say how much rhino horn is held by government-managed parks and reserves.

"Due to security risks, the department cannot publicly announce the amount of stocks being held by these agencies," she said earlier this year.

On Wednesday, she said her department was involved in an "extensive" preparatory process ahead of the Cites congress.

"This will include discussions on whether or not to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn."

On the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, Molewa said 199 rhino had been killed so far this year.

"We are very, very deeply concerned," she told the House.

Earlier, briefing journalists at Parliament, Molewa said South Africa would not table a document at the next Cites meeting calling for the rhino horn trade moratorium to be lifted.

"No, not this time around. We are still considering all options, as well as probabilities towards that direction. We have not decided yet. Let it be clear.

"We are still doing some very serious work in analysing whether we need to move in that direction or not."

Among the things that needed to be done before trade could be resumed was "to ensure we get to know who the partners are on the other side".

Policies had to be in place "that do not allow any shenanigans to operate in the system," Molewa said.

"There are just too many things to do before we can place the discussion before the conference of parties. We are not yet there."


Emphatic “no” to controversial rhino proposal

Wed May 30, 2012 12:40 pm


30 Wed, May 2012

Legalising the sale of rhino horn will have catastrophic consequences for free-ranging rhino in the wild, especially for those north of South Africa’s borders, leading African conservationist, Colin Bell, has warned.

Bell was responding to calls to legalise the sale of rhino horn through a strictly controlled process by a central selling organisation.

SA Tourism Update last week quoted a report in The Star that CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Dr Bandile Mkhize, had proposed the creation of a global central selling organisation of rhino horn.

“We have to try something different, and trading rhino horn is a mechanism I am now prepared to support and argue forcefully for,”Mkhize said.

The idea would be to sell more than the current level of illegally obtained horn at a price that limited demand to sustainable levels.

Bell said, while this might work for certain vested interests in South Africa, it was wishful thinking to believe that the relatively few remaining rhinos could ever meet the demand for horn from potentially billions of people.

He pointed out that many of the rhino populations outside South Africa, which are often found within unfenced national parks or on community land, could in all likelihood be targeted and even wiped out if the sale of horn was legalised. “When South Africans propose wildlife solutions, they need to not only think of what effect it will have on South Africa but also what effect the proposals will have north of our borders. There needs to be a shift from the South African micro view on solutions to rhino poaching to an all-African solution. We need to look past our boundaries and look at the problem from an African perspective. In my view, if we open up the legal trade of rhino horn, we do know that South African game ranchers will benefit but we do not know what the ramifications will be for rhino roaming the wilds further north.”

Bell said that while the South African authorities and stakeholders might have the best intentions to strictly control sales, the way CITES certificates and hunting permits had been abused in the past meant that further openings would be created for organised criminal syndicates to exploit the situation.

Pointing to his own experience in Botswana, he said in the 80s, prior to the authorities clamping down on loopholes, sometimes up to 20 additional buffalo were illegally hunted on one legal hunting permit for one animal. The same scale of abuse could already be happening overseas with the CITES rhino permits already issued.

He believed that, despite government’s best efforts, bogus rhino hunting in South Africa was widespread. He sent Tourism Update a copy of the latest issue of the KZN-based magazine, Wildside, which published a list of permits issued in one district.

Over 90% of the permits were granted to Asian hunters, mainly from Vietnam, many of whom were reported to be clueless about hunting but were apparently after the CITES certificates needed to export rhino horn – and to potentially launder and legalise many other illegally obtained rhino horns. In North West province alone, over 90% of the 194 legally sanctioned hunts since 2009 have been to ‘hunters’ from the East.

“The only way forward is (a) all rhino hunting is stopped immediately so that no more new CITES permits can be issued to further flood the market overseas; (b) that the fines for the illegal possession of rhino horn have to be dramatically increased along with the jail sentences; (c) for anti-poaching efforts to be radically stepped up. The days of anti-poaching being an eight-to-four job are over if we wish to address the poaching scourge. And finally (d), if we want to become serious about stopping rhino poaching, we need to track down every one of the CITES permits issued to Vietnamese and find out what has happened to those horns. That journey will take us directly to the people who are fuelling the demand for rhino horn in the Orient.”

Well-motivated and resourced anti-poaching squads were effective, Bell said, citing the examples where well-policed and protected reserves had succeeded in repelling potential poachers.

Bell co-founded Wilderness Safaris in 1983 and was the CEO until 2005 when it operated almost 55 lodges in seven African countries and won the Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler’s first World Legacy Award for responsible tourism.

“Africa has already lost the Northern White rhino from the wilds in the past decade. If we open up the legal trade of rhino horn, it may be good for the South African game ranchers but we do not know what the ramifications will be for rhino throughout the rest of Africa. It is just too much of a risk,” said Bell.

The Editor

Re: Emphatic “no” to controversial rhino proposal

Wed May 30, 2012 1:25 pm

Mr Bell makes a lot of sense

Re: Emphatic “no” to controversial rhino proposal

Thu May 31, 2012 10:58 am

Penny wrote:Its all about smoke and mirrors and a goodly dollop of snake oil thrown in!!! I am led to believe that the latest figure is now 230 released at the Rhino Conservation Dialogue Workshop! The Hawks have predicted nearly 560 at the end of the year if this continues!

Re: Emphatic “no” to controversial rhino proposal

Thu May 31, 2012 10:59 am

Penga Ndlovu wrote:Well said Linda.

\O \O \O \O \O \O \O \O

LETTER: Rhino war is being lost
This week the latest rhino poaching statistics were released: 227 so far this year. Just over 60% of these were in the Kruger National Park.
Published in the BusinessDay: 2012/05/30 08:35:05 AM

This week the latest rhino poaching statistics were released: 227 so far this year. Just over 60% of these were in the Kruger National Park.

One still has to wonder why a state of emergency has not been declared in the park. One also has to wonder why hunting permits are still issued for rhino and why they are still allowed to be sold on auction when nobody has any idea how many we have left in the wild. Surely good sense would dictate a moratorium be placed on all these activities until an independent census (long overdue) is conducted.

The war is being lost in the boardrooms and it is clearly time for some decisive action. Tourism numbers are down. How long before there are job losses in the tourism sector? Can our economy sustain such job losses?

You might say that the plight of the rhino is not important in relation to poverty, education, housing etc. These issues are also vitally important and seemingly under-addressed. However, without the rhino we can no longer boast about the big five. The big five is a huge draw card and we certainly need the foreign exchange that this generates in order to boost our economy.

It is also time to realise this is organised crime and should be treated as such.

The issue is raised overseas in the media, even in the US Senate, but we are still waiting to hear our government — meant to be the custodian of these animals — shout "enough".

Linda Park


Re: Emphatic “no” to controversial rhino proposal

Thu May 31, 2012 10:59 am

Another alternative is simply burning all stocks and horns found in the bush, by law!

Don't know how well that would go down with Mr Hume and SanParks, though! //\0--

Re: Rhino Poaching

Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:11 am

A letter to the Financial Mail, Thu 14 June, 2012

Rhinos are not Farm Animals

John Hume, in response to your article (On My Mind June 8), here are some questions for you:

Who, in your master plan, is going to (a) pay for the darting, horn harvesting and revival procedures, and (b) ensure that the resultant harvest is legally recorded?

What makes you think for one minute that poor communities have the finances to do this or the knowledge to ensure that no short cuts are taken?

Are you intending to give 4800 of the many rhino you have to these communities? If not, where are you supposing they will come from?

How are you proposing to “contain” the rhino within the allocated communities? Who is going to pay for this?

Your push for the legalising of the trade in rhino horn is well known. You would make enough money from this to last several lifetimes. However, have you ever for one minute considered the ethics of what you want to do?

Rhino are not farm animals. Their wildness should be respected. They have walked the earth far longer than you have. The fact that they are being brought to their knees now due to human greed should make you ashamed. Rhino need their horns. If they did not they would not have them in the first place. Because you want to make money out of a total fabrication of the “power” of the horn, you think it is acceptable to farm and harvest.

One is condoning this myth and supporting it by doing this. Trade in ivory never did help the elephants. Trade in rhino horn will not help the rhino. The only beneficiaries will be the farmers. Morally and ethically the right thing to do here is a no-brainer.

It is high time we humans stopped being so driven by money and started doing right by our wildlife.

Linda Park, Johannesburg

Re: Rhino Poaching

Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:56 pm

^Q^ Well said Linda!!!!!!

Re: Rhino Poaching

Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:36 pm

Plan to sell rhino horns to China

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife calls to Cites to lift the global ban on rhino horn trading

0- Allowing any type of trade in rhino horn with China will only whet the Chinese appetite for more rhino horns and keep the illegal trade in rhino horn alive. :evil:

Re: Rhino Poaching

Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:16 pm

They all want to cash the fortune they have, before the Chinese start understanding that the Rhino horn powder is only powder and nothing else :evil: