Another CITES meeting has come and gone. So what does it mean for rhinos?
In 2013 Vietnam and Mozambique were directed to strengthen their efforts on poaching and the trade of rhino horn.
Vietnam’s report to CITES, indicates they are taking steps to improve the situation, including initiating a rhinoceros horn demand reduction programme and tweaking their laws and regulations.
According to CITES, “It is evident that Vietnam has managed to set in motion a political momentum to combat illegal wildlife trade, which has significantly contributed to tangible progress in its efforts to implement measures to combat illegal rhinoceros horn trade more effectively.”
Although encouraging, according to Save the Rhino, one area of concern is the limited custodial sentences for trafficking rhino horn, which they have acknowledged is an area for improvement. Heavy sentencing is a crucial deterrent to those involved in rhino horn trafficking.
Mozambique, according to their own reports, had a notable increase in arrests and fines. They have also stated they have provided new equipment to field rangers, resettlement of villages close to the border with the Kruger National Park, established an “Intensive Protection Zone” along the length of the border with the Park, and increased cross border co-operation.
In addition they have signed the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with South Africa.
These statements beg further explanation. The villages “close to the border” are where the area known as “Poachers Alley” exists. And the protection zone- is it for protection of rhinos or poachers?
CITES is urging Mozambique to develop a national rhino horn action plan, with time-frames and milestones, and submit this to the CITES Secretariat by 8 August 2014. According to reports, Europe and the US are ready to issue sanctions if necessary.
As the Environmental Investigation Agency has recently indicated in its petition to President Obama,
“Available evidence indicates that Mozambican nationals constitute the highest number of foreign arrests for poaching in South Africa. Organized crime syndicates based in Mozambique are driving large-scale illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory”
The CITES report does not indicate anything with China regarding rhino horn trade.
But China was allegedly, vehemently complaining about the necessity of reporting its status to CITES. In addition for the first time, they admitted to using Tiger parts (well only some of them). A Chinese delegate said, “we don’t ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones”.
There was also no mention of Thailand or Hong Kong.
For more: the CITES working group rhino report