#HORROR>Dept of Environmental Affairs is exploring option of making trade in rhino horn legal in SA #LegalBrief #SaveTheRhino

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Environmental Focus

Conservation: Report points the way forward in fight against rhino poaching
A key report has recommended steps the SA Government needs to take to halt the scourge of rhino poaching, writes Legalbrief. The Department of Environmental Affairs is exploring the option of making trade in rhino horn legal in SA and then entering the massive market through controlled dehorning, says a report in The Citizen. It notes this was in reaction to a recommendation made by the Rhino Issue Management (RIM). ‘Making trade illegal is not stopping rhino poaching, but only makes it harder to analyse the market for the product at hand,’ said RIM’s economic consultant Keith Lockwood. RIM is a consulting process that took place in 2012 with the aim of facilitating an understanding of the challenges relating to rhino conservation in the face of poaching. The final report, containing suggestions on how this problem should be addressed, was submitted to the Minister of Environmental Affairs in January. The report suggested that SA should lift the ban on the rhino horn trade and enter the market through selling of horns at auctions. The horns would be obtained from rhinos which have been dehorned in a controlled environment, or rhinos that have died of natural causes. Lockwood said improving safety and security measures alone would not be enough to stop the rhino carnage in SA. The department, however, said they only partially support dehorning and legalising the trade, as ‘there is still a lot that needs to be done’.
Full report in The Citizen

SA’s rhino population will rapidly decline in the next three years if it is not protected and poaching is not eradicated, according to the RIM report released last week. A report in The Citizen notes that at current poaching levels, rhino numbers would decline significantly by 2016, and possibly earlier in the KrugerNational Park, according to SA National Parks former CEO Mavuso Msimang, who headed the research. At least 515 rhino had been killed in the country so far this year. A total of 668 rhino were killed in the country last year. Msimang said although live birth rates exceeded death rates, more stringent measures should be implemented to protect them. The report, titled Rhino Issue Management, recommended greater political will from authorities, a central funding mechanism to fight poaching, harsher sentences to deter criminals, and evaluating the rhino horn trade with other countries, especially in Asia, where the horn was in demand. Commercial trade in rhino horn was also recommended to curb poaching. Environmental affairs department deputy DG Fundisile Mketeni said the recommendation to allow commercial trade in rhino horn would form part of a rhino trade proposal to be submitted at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora in 2016.
Full report in The Citizen

The report urged the government to remove the moratorium on domestic trade before seeking international agreements in 2016, says a BDlive report. It notes rhino horn sales have been banned for more than 30 years under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but increasing demand from Asian countries has sparked an increase in poaching. Rhino horn sells for an estimated $60 000/kg. According to the report, SA has become a prime target for rhino horn poaching as the country has about 90% of the total world rhino population and 73% of Africa’s. There are about 18 910 white rhino and 2 044 black rhino in SA. Inadequate intelligence for both government conservation agencies and private wildlife owners is the ‘Achilles heel’ in their efforts to protect the country’s rhino population. A report on the IoL site says this is according to the RIM report.
Full BDlive report
Full report on the IoL site
Full Rhino Issue Management report (PDF)
See Legalbrief Policy Watch (below)

Selling the plight of the country’s rhino to mainstream American audiences is proving difficult, a panel discussing the issue heard in Durban last week. Film maker Richard Slater Jones, who directed the 2012 documentary film Saving Rhino Phila, said film producers faced a ‘difficult balance between information and entertainment’, according to a report on the News24 site. Films that showed men battling crocodiles with their bare hands drew audiences and pushed up television ratings. Films on the rhino did not fall into that category. Another film maker, Peter Lamberti, said he was not sure how the rhino issue could achieve more entertainment value to attract more attention. The panel discussion was part of Wild Talk Africa, the largest international wildlife and natural history film festival and conference in Africa.
Full report on the News24 site

The hunting of rhino for their horns continues, according to a report on the News24 site which notes Czech authorities last week seized 24 white rhino horns and charged 16 suspected members of an international smuggling ring, the customs department said. The horns, believed in parts of Asia to heal illnesses including cancer and sold as an aphrodisiac, were worth $5m, customs and police officials said.
Full report on the News24 site

Staying with the fight to save the rhino, in a desperate bid to preserve the critically endangered species, a US zoo is taking the controversial step of trying to mate brother and sister captive Sumatran rhinos. The coupling of six-year-old Harapan and his older sister Suci could take place as early as August at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio, animal keepers say, according to a report on the News24 site. It notes the tactic has stirred strong emotions, but Terri Roth, director of the Lindner Centre for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, said she has no other choice. Conservation experts say there are as few as 100 Sumatran rhino left in the wild in their native lands of Indonesia and Malaysia. In captivity, there are only 10 in the world.
Full report on the News24 site

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