Posts Tagged With: Trade

Devils in the Details

There are certain times our voices matter immensely. This is one.  Please take a few minutes to send an email to: mboshoff@environment.gov.za

Comments MUST be subitted by MARCH 10th!help-me

Edna Molewa, South Africa DEA, has announced her intentions of allowing legal trade of rhino horn. As days go by, more dirty details arise, exposing the corruption at the heart of this political fiasco. There seemingly will be NO restriction on the amount of horn able to be traded!

Latest dirty laundry of horn trade: Bombshell hidden in draft rhino regulations 

“The concern of the international community is that while rhino horn prices have dropped by 50% in the last few years in Vietnam due to massive public education efforts, this will confuse the message, greatly expand the consumer base and facilitate laundering, making poaching even worse. Exactly what happened when ivory trade was re-opened in China.” -Peter Knights, WildAid

If you’re reading this, please take a couple of minutes to send an email! (Keep them simple, factual and please no profanity or too much emotion.)

 

For details: Drafted regulations on proposed horn trade

 

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Justice for Rhinos-PLEASE do your part!

With the recent tragedy at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, the staff are doing their best to heal and pick up the pieces. There has been an outpouring of donations and support. Now we must be sure that justice is served. Please sign the following petition.

Justice for Thula Thula Rhino Calves

a-tw-thula-bright

Even the outright horror of this recent attack hasn’t effected the South African governments intent to allow trade.

Although CITES is against it, evidence does not support it, and their so-called “legal” trade will only serve to fuel and mask the already illegal trade, Edna Molewa and the government are planning on going forward. Please sign this petition from the International Humane Society and voice your concern. This MUST not go forward!

Urge South Africa NOT to Trade in Rhino Horn

Keywords: stock, rhinoceros, wildlife, southern white rhino confirmed wild by iStockphoto 10/2013

Together, we must persevere in our pursuit of justice. Together, we must be the voice for the voiceless.

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

CITES Recap: the good, the bad and the ugly

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 2008-2020 vision states
*they will be contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the global ecosystem on which all life depends,
*as well as promoting transparency and wider involvement of civil society in the development of conservation policies and practices

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Are they following their vision?

Well, here’s a recap. The animals who reaped ‘benefits’ from increased protection are:

*Pangolins (trade was completely banned, and the most highly trafficked animals in the world were given highest protection status)

*African Gray Parrots (trade was completely outlawed)

*Sharks and Rays (Thirteen species of rays and Thresher and Silky sharks were given highest protection status)

In addition, proposals to grant legal trade in ivory and/or horn in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were denied.

But the disheartening news was the denial of CITES to grant the highest level of protection to:

*Elephants 

*Rhinos 

*Lions 

An added issue for lions is the trade in captive bred lion parts remains legal. This perpetuates the Asian demand, and serves as an added incentive for South Africa to continue breeding farms. (Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa.)

seizures-of-lion-parts

© Data from UNEP-WCMC

In theory wild lion parts are not legally traded. Yet, there is no way to tell the difference between a wild lion bone and a captive lion bone. If money is to be made, bones will likely be obtained. Like a fenced in yard with surrounded by only  three sides, protection for Africa’s lion is incomplete, and proves worrisome to an even  faster decline.

In the end, the negligence to protect one species casts a shadow over the decision to protect others. It also casts doubt on the credibility and intentions of our CITES delegates.

zuma-opening-cites-2016

President Zuma at CITES. South Africa has been accused of “selling out” both elephants in lions in their votes against added protection. Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

 

There is no necessity in trading lion parts, wild or captive. To perpetuate a market and feed a false cultural perception is not only ethically questionable, but also sends a mixed message in the overall trade of wildlife products. Why is one species an acceptable “commodity” over another? And if a species becomes “captive bred”, is the door open for that species to be traded as well?

lion-farm-by-one-green-planet

Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa photo: One Green Planet

For Appendices ratings, just how low do the numbers have to get for us to act? The Northern White Rhinos are a perfect example of the error in waiting too long. There are 3 left. They were never afforded protection in time. Why isn’t their predicament enough; does history teach us nothing?

northern-white-by-brent-stirton-nat-geo

Only three Northern White Rhinos remain, all living in Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. photo: Brent Stirton/Nat Geo

(It is important to note that upgrading lions to the Appendix I status would ONLY have affected wild lions, and would not have afforded protection to their captive cousins.)

 

 

 

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Legal Trade: Is it worth the gamble?

It seems time to address the idea of legal horn trade again.  We understand the desire to try almost anything to save our rhinos. But it is our opinion that entertaining legal trade is not one of them.  There are far more reasons why legalizing rhino horn is a BAD idea.

#1 The number of rhinos left does NOT support the extreme demand for horn.

#2 We KNOW by flooding the market with something, it does not alleviate the demand, but on the contrary, increases it. Case and point-bears and tigers. China’s “farming” of them, has only expanded the market, in addition to leaving the animals in horrible health, with shortened lives (see The Legal Trade Myths: Debunked by Annamiticus)

#3 Members of CITES would need to approve the measure, which they have all spoken up on with a definite NO, including China.

not a chance

#4  Not all animals are easily farmed. Rhinos succumb to conditions in close quarters with one another, in which they are unaffected by in the wild. In addition, it is a costly endeavor, both for veterinary and security costs. Most individuals would not even be able to achieve this. (see: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions)

#5 Certain Asian communities ONLY want wild rhino horn. The mindset is that it is more valued because it is harder to come by. Therefore farmed horn will be meaningless to them.

#6 Corruption is rampant not only in South Africa, but in so much having to do with rhino horn. IF trade were legalized, WHO is trusted to police the system? Even during the time ivory was allowed legally in a one-off sale, there was corruption and selling of illegal ivory. (see AWF Ivory)

#7 Asian attitudes on horn are changing, more awareness is taking hold. By making horn legal for a short time then pulling it back off the market, it stands to confuse consumers, re-fuel current demand, as well as possibly reaching a larger market because of the legality.

Hanoi airport

One-off sales have not worked before, there is no evidence to show it would work now. In fact, the opposite is true. If we are serious about stopping poaching, we must stop the demand. It must be loud, clear and forceful that trade and demand are NOT options.

At the very least the idea of legal trade is an enormous risk. It is an action where there is no turning back, and if the worst case scenarios are realized, the rhinos would be gone forever.

rhino crash running

 

 

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Mixed Messages are killing our elephants and rhinos

To crush or hoard?

That is the dilemma for African countries with ivory stockpiles. It’s a polarizing debate. Destruction eliminates any and all possibility at corruption, it will not find its way back on the market and it sends a clear message ivory NOT attached to the animal has no value.

But the other side believes saving and selling the ivory allows the money to be rolled back over into conservation efforts for the animals, and the communities.

The problem is that elephants and rhinos exist throughout the African continent, making the “product” available in multiple countries, and each country has its own stance on stockpiling. So while Mozambique destroys ivory, directly across the border in Zimbabwe the country stores it, awaiting an opportunity to sell. This creates mixed messages and a lack of unity.

horns and tusks by reuters

Seized horns and tusks on display in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Selling Ivory Funds Communities

Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa have a stock and sell take on ivory.

Namibia  Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said destroying the ivory and horn goes against government policy. Instead the stock is auctioned off to other interested countries.

“We will get a lot of money and the proceeds will go to state coffers to alleviate poverty. Also, we feel it is not an effective deterrent in fighting poaching,” said Shifeta.

While Botswana states it is “out of the question” to sell rhino horn, they’ve just announced they will seek permission to sell their ivory stockpile after the 10 years moratorium with CITES has expired in 2018.

Good news for the rhinos, considering the fact that Botswana is key to future rhino populations with the current translocations taking place from Kruger National Park.  Not so great for elephants.

Overall,  an interesting proposition considering the country’s strong stance on anti-poaching, and the large stake in their wildlife. 90% of tourists in Botswana come for the wildlife.

bots tourism

The wildlife tourism industry is estimated to continue to grow throughout the coming years, making it an invaluable component to the economy. Graph: World Travel & Tourism Council

 

 Destroy Ivory, Stop Poaching

Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Ethiopia have all held public burns/crushes to destroy their stockpiles of horn and ivory.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto says the illegal ivory has no economic value to them, saying that “the selling is what has brought us to the state of poaching that we are in.”

kenya ivory burn bbc

Kenya burned 15 tonnes of ivory in March. President Kenyatta has vowed the entire stockpile will be burned this year. AFP photo

One-off Sales

So the hoard and sell leads to occasional one-off sales of a set amount for a limited time.

It is the belief of some that by CITES issuing these sales of horn or ivory, it fans the flames and results in a poaching spike, sending elephant and rhino populations into a tailspin. Afterall how can we  allow LEGAL one-off sales of a product AND simultaneously strive at reducing demand for the same product? Confusing to say the least.

The experts who work with elephants are in agreement.

cynthia moss 1It is very discouraging having to fight the battle to save elephants once again. The 1989 ban helped elephants to recover in most parts of Africa. Now even in Amboseli we’re losing elephants to ivory poachers for the first time in many years. The sale of any ivory–legal or not–is creating demand. No one needs ivory. It is a beautiful substance, but the only ones who need it are elephants.

– Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Elephant Research Project

ian redmond 2As long as ivory is valued as a commodity, every tusker is at risk from poachers, and only where anti-poaching efforts are sufficient will elephants survive. Anti-poaching costs money and lives. Banning the ivory trade has been the single-most effective and economical way to slow the loss of elephants across their whole range – not just where they can be protected by anti-poaching units. 

Ian Redmond, OBE Wildlife biologist and Ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

So who do we listen to? The experts who work with these creatures, seeing their lives and deaths and the daily effects of poaching? Or political officials with a mixed bag of agendas?

If we must view elephants, rhinos or other animal in economic terms, then we must factor in tourism. Without wildlife, there is no tourism. Period.

To read more about the fight to ban ivory and save elephants: Born Free Foundation 

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Elephant herd on a dusty day in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Tisha Wardlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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China is proof why Legal Trade in Rhino horn will fail

white rhino with baby by martin harvey

White Rhinos photo:Martin Harvey

Rhino poaching has already risen by 18%, and it’s only halfway through the year. Yet the South African DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) continues their push of legal trade, unabated.

Aside from the usual and obvious arguments with legal trade, there are three definitive reasons why legal trade would fail:

CITES

CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) representatives, including China’s have recommended against it. In fact, Wan Ziming, the head of China’s representing party at CITES, told Oxpeckers he was concerned that “the legitimate horn supply would be insufficient to meet the demand.”

Without the backing from CITES trade could not happen. “With almost every country having banned rhino horn, I have no idea of any country that would be willing to import rhino horn stockpile from South Africa,”said Ziming.

PAST ONE-OFF SALES

In 2008 South Africa initiated a one-off sale of stored ivory. This brief sale, though legal, renewed interest and increased demand within the Chinese culture. Ivory prices skyrocketed, but the “legal supply” was exhausted.

Immediately following this sale, according to CITES, “record levels of ivory were seized and sustained throughout the period 2009 to 2011.”

In addition to confusing consumers, the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) conducted a survey that clearly showed that illegal ivory can be laundered freely through the legal market. In fact illegal trade activity often took place in legal facilities.

If China cannot (or will not) govern the legal trade, there is no point.

TIGERS 

Twenty years ago China banned the sale and use of tiger bone. Yet tiger farms have cropped up all over the country for the sole purpose of killing and utilizing the animal parts. Instead of stepping up enforcement, China caved to public pressure and wildlife authorities issued licenses for “wineries” and “taxidermists”, stimulating the demand.

It costs as little as US $15 to kill a wild tiger compared to US $7,000 to farm an animal to maturity. This profit margin offers substantial incentives for poaching tigers in the wild. Since it is impossible to distinguish between farm-raised tigers and their wild counterparts from their bones and other parts, farming tigers for trade creates enormous difficulties for law enforcement, and provides opportunities to “launder” products made from wild tigers.**

The same is true for ivory and horn. It is virtually impossible to distinguish the difference between “legal” or “old” ivory and “illegal” or “poached” ivory.

Perhaps it’s time for South Africa government to stop counting cash from sales that won’t come to fruition, and go with Plan B: get serious about poaching through laws and political will.

horn trade cartoon

(**from the UN Chronicle)

 

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The ONLY threat to adult rhinos is humans

It’s amazing how many people still don’t know about the fight for the lives of rhinos. Please share this Wildaid video far and wide-let’s get the word out!

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Attention Rhino Horn Users!

Each day at  least three rhino die for two reasons:
1. the Asian belief that horn cures medical ailments
2. as a status symbol in Vietnamese high society.

But, attention rhino horn users: at least 80% of the horn you purchase is fake, according to an Oxpeckers report.

Karl Ammann from Natural History Magazine stated “probably up to 90% of end consumers (of rhino horn)  would unknowingly purchase products made of water buffalo or other bovine horn.”

fake horn in jewelry shop in laos via karl ammann

A jewlery shop in Laos sells a fake rhino horn. Via: Karl Ammann

Horn is a hard commodity to come by. Rhino numbers are low, poaching risk is high. So horn smugglers have learned to make the money without the trouble.

Initially fake horns were made with an easily identifiable mould, made from buffalo horn , wood, or even  industrial plastic. But according to a report presented to CITES, the fake horns are now made with top quality resins and look so authentic that they are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing.

As rhino numbers decline, and demand increases, the market will likely be saturated with faux horn, as criminals cash in on the diminishing rhinos. Unless users wake up and stop sniffing plastic and consuming wood and resin.

Fake rhino horns in museum

  These faux rhino horns fooled thieves , as they were stolen from the Natural History Museum at Tring, in Hertfordshire.

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering our Elephants

“You know … they say an elephant never forgets.
What they don’t tell you is, you never forget an elephant.” World Ele Day
On today, World Elephant Day, let us bow our heads and remember the gentle giants who have lost their lives to poaching. 100 a day, every day…

We pray for the safety of those who remain, and we will continue to fight like hell to stop the scourge of poaching from taking anymore.

Sign: Stop the Ivory Trade

Sign: Google-Stop Ivory Trade through your site

 

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CITES Recap on Rhino

Another CITES meeting has come and gone. So what does it mean for rhinos?

rhino in grass

In 2013 Vietnam and Mozambique were directed to strengthen their efforts on poaching and the trade of rhino horn.

Vietnam

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.

confiscated horns

In March, Vietnam Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan stated they were considering destroying it’s storage of horns.

Mozambique

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”

carvalho_muaria_mozambique

Moz Minister of Tourism, Carvalho Muaria, signs the MOU with South Africa.

China

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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