Posts Tagged With: Vietnam

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

 

Categories: Making a Difference | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 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

cites-17

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.)

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Endangered Animals: the new “collectible” in China

Rhinos horns have been coveted as a use in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years.

Over the last few years, rhino horn powder has trended as a status symbol in Vietnam. It is used as a “party drug” for the elite.

rhino horn powder afp getty

Woman grind horn into powder. photo: AFP/Getty

Now, rhino horn, along with pangolin scales, tiger bones, and ivory are being kept as collectibles.

China’s social elite is stockpiling the products in anticipation of their extinction. They  prefer wild “products” over farm-raised,as they see more worth in them. Wild animals are thought to be more potent as well.

tiger bone wine

Tiger wine, made from their bones, is being kept or “aged” with hopes of increased value if they become extinct. photo: unknown

Endangered species have become the new collectible. According to John R Platt,  as more collectors have entered the market, killing endangered species has grown increasingly profitable. Ivory wholesale prices, for example, have shot up from $564 per kilogram in 2006 to at least $2,100 today.

Just one rhino horn nets about $100,000. Helmeted Hornbill beak can fetch over $6,000 per kg, and a tiger skin rug is worth $124,000.

helmeted hornbill by species on the brink

Helmeted hornbills, from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, are so rare, numbers are not quantified. Their beaks worth more than ivory. photo: Asian Species Action Partnership

Investing in the death of our world’s wildlife is a greedy, unforgivable endeavor. The faster the rich wipe out our animals, the poorer we all become.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will there be rhino horn under the tree?

In 2013, sadly the most popular Christmas gift in Vietnam was rhino horn. The use of horn, as well as other rare animal products is deeply embedded in Vietnamese culture, and is a current trend of a luxury item within the country’s elite.

Vietnam occasions for horn use Wildact 2015

-WildAct Vietnam 2015

Vietnam has the tragic distinction of being the country MOST responsible for the growing demand for rhino horn. The majority of consumers are mid to upper income males, conforming to the egotistical social pressures of  ‘the rarer the product, the more “valuable” or “cool” it is to have.’

Knowing the market, and being an influential businessman, Richard Branson has become an advocate and voice in the fight against horn use in the country. In September, he spent an evening in Ho Chi Minh City with the country’s elite.

“Listening to 25 of the country’s leading entrepreneurs around the table, I quickly learned how much the issue has already become part of a national conversation – one that has caused great embarrassment for a country of 90 million people that is rapidly entering the global market. But change is difficult to come by, stifled by a lack of interest in conservation issues and also by insufficient enforcement. On the upside, as I learned over dinner, younger Vietnamese seem to understand the seriousness of the problem and no longer wish to be associated with these harmful habits.” -Richard Branson

face campagin

A campaign geared toward the business men who utilize horn.

Yet according to a survey of Vietnamese youth (15-40), conducted by our Rhino Alliance partners, WildAct, there is little understanding of animal welfare. Despite the  conservation education campaigns that have been introduced, there are a great deal of Vietnamese youth still wanting to own wildlife products.

It is difficult to obtain true numbers indicating actual growth or decline in usage, but the number of poached rhinos this year is at an all time high, with at least 1500 poached in 2015.

Wildlife consumption and use is a social event in the country. It is a matter of changing tradition and trends.  To better understand the difficulty of this, imagine if turkeys  became endangered; could we convince people to stop consuming them every November?

In the meantime, how many rhino horns will be gifted this Christmas? How much longer can they sustain the slaughter and demand?

The silver lining is that in WildAct’s survery, nearly 98% of the youth agree the government should do more for wildlife conservation. Continued education and empowering the youth is the key to curbing the demand.

wildlife ambassadors for rhinos

Investec supports a program for youth ambassadors for wildlife in Vietnam.

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Zen for Rhinos

Vietnam is the country responsible for the most demand in rhino horn.

75% of Vietnam is Buddhist.

Recently the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) announced they would actively promote guidelines and awareness toward the illegal and immoral use of rhino horn.

According to the IBC newsletter, “We should move from Compassion to Action…putting forth the need for a pioneering Buddhist initiative that translates Buddha’s teachings of compassion and wisdom into action for the good of all sentient beings.”

Vietnam’s Buddhist leadership has agreed to launch a comprehensive public outreach campaign against the use of rhino horn on the grounds that it is steeped in violence towards animals, biodiversity and human beings (poachers, rangers, and the victims of illegal trafficking in drugs, arms and people).

It’s consumption therefore is unacceptable for any Buddhist and has to stop.

vietnam feeding rhinos breaking the brand

Image from Breaking the Brand.

 

 

Categories: Good News, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ivory Trade In our own backyards

Mention wildlife crime and poaching, and the topic generally turns to China, Vietnam and the Asian communities. Their high demand for wildlife in medicinal and mythical remedies seems to be the root of the evil.

Yet while quick to focus on the Eastern part of the globe, we’re missing what’s closer to home. The US is the second largest ivory market in the world. In 2011 a TON of ivory was seized in a single raid in New York alone.

illegal ivory trade in US

by: IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

 

The Fish and Wildlife Service has about 200 agents across the U.S., and just one  ivory or rhino horn investigation can occupy up to 30 agents and take 18 months. Severely understaffed and in many cases lacking training, the current laws aren’t enforceable. It is estimated for every crate or shipment that is confiscated, at least ten get through.

There is hope with the current trend, as state by state the US is banding together to crack down on selling and possession of ivory and horn. Presently there are 2 states with laws passed, and fourteen states with legislation introduced. But increased funding for staffing at the ports is necessary to carry out these laws.

prince william elephant

Prince William urges EU to take a stronger stance on wildlife laws. Photo: Getty

Europe is also highly culpable. As the worlds biggest exporter of so-called “old” ivory, recent figures indicate the trade is not only alive in  Europe, but growing.  It is estimated there are 25,000 wildlife products dealt in the EU every year.

In 2013 a two-week  Interpol investigation revealed hundreds of ivory items for sale in European countries, conservatively valued at approximately EUR 1,450,000. The internet is a major source for the easy access.

INTERPOL is working closely with international enforcement agencies on shutting down the viral access to wildlife. During an online investigation, they discovered  more than 660 advertisements for ivory on 61 different auction sites, estimated to have a total volume of approximately 4,500 kilograms of ivory. The Project Web report calls for specific e-commerce legislation regulating wildlife trade to be introduced in the EU.

Current laws in all countries need immediate examination, loopholes must be closed and ALL ivory must be banned. Only with global unity can we stop the decimation of our elephants and rhinos, and slow the escalation of wildlife trafficking for other species.

Elephant cartoon

by: Matt Davies

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Another Terrorist Attack funded by poaching

Violence begets violence.

FACT: Elephants are poached by terrorist groups in order to obtain ivory to fund their terrorist operations.

A swarm of gunmen stormed a Kenya university before dawn Thursday, opening fire and taking hostages.

At least 70 people were killed at Garissa University College, the Kenyan Interior Ministry said.More than 500 students remain unaccounted for at the campus that had about 815 students, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Center.

The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.

Kenyan defence force

The Kenyan Defence Force outside the university in Kenya. (the NewDaily)

 This is NOT a rare happening. The kidnapping of Nigerian girls , the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya …these attacks are funded by elephant poaching. Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda…they make up to 40% of their organizational funding for weapons, training, and basic supplies; through ivory.

The demand for ivory and horn stems from the Asian market; using both ivory and horn for medicinal purposes, in carvings, artwork, jewelry, and as a status symbol. The devastating effect on both elephant and rhino populations is making the product more difficult to come by. High demand, low supply equal ludicrously high product value. And THIS is the attraction for the terrorist groups.

Paying poachers less than $100 usd to do the dirty work, they gain approximately $2000/kilo in the sale of the ivory. Rhino horn is also a valued commodity for the terrorists, at a whopping $65000/kilo on the black market. An easy cash flow with little risk.

Shouldn’t the buyers of ivory and horn be held responsible for the deaths of innocent victims? At the very least they are accessories to the crime.

 It’s time to stop looking at poaching as simply an “animal rights” issue or an “African problem”. With terrorist attacks plaguing the US, Europe and African countries alike, this is a global concern demanding immediate action from every country. It’s time to get serious.

terrorism

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hunted: a Powerful Message

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ivory Bans Gaining Traction in US

96 elephants a day

3 rhinos a day

At the current rate, without intervention, extinction would be imminent in the near future.

The insatiable appetite for ivory and horn extends beyond the borders of China and Vietnam. The US is the second largest market for ivory. But since President Obama’s Executive Order to stop wildlife trafficking, the preservation of elephants and rhinos is finally gaining momentum. The US is taking positive and proactive steps to preserve wildlife and combat global trafficking.

mom and babe ele

Both New York (previously the first largest state for ivory imports) and New Jersey have bans on ivory imports. Now the following states are introducing bans as well:

  • Hawaii (third largest state for ivory imports)
  • Oklahoma
  • California (second largest state for ivory imports)
  • Massachusetts
  • Florida
  • Washington

The federal rules include banning all commercial imports of African elephant ivory regardless of age. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of finalizing additional rules that could ban interstate trade of ivory, with some exception for antiques, and limit the number of tusks and ivory that may be brought into the U.S. by sports hunters.

Although these steps will provide better protection for the lives of elephants and rhinos, not everyone is over the moon with these motions. Antique dealers and the NRA (National Rifle Association) are concerned.  According to an NRA spokesperson, Catherine Mortensen “Consequently, many priceless personal effects will be rendered valueless.”

Black rhin mom and babe

 

 

 

Categories: Good News, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.