FOLLOW UP LETTER to TREVOR SALMON, CITES RHINO WORKING GROUP
Dear Mr. Salmon,
PROPOSAL WITH REGARD TO CERATOTHERIUM SIMUM SIMUM
Further to our previous communications I would like to provide you with feedback on a petition that will be handed over to the Secretary-General of CITES in Geneva within the next few days. We are proud to announce that 11,469 signatures were collected in response to an appeal to CITES to organise an emergency meeting with a single agenda point: Put all possible measures in place to stop the out-of control poaching of rhinos.
I have carefully considered your reply of the 30th April 2012 and the advice therein.
FIRSTLY, when I first wrote to you on the 14th April 2012, I was under the impression that the species Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) is included under Appendix II of the CITES Appendices.
I have subsequently found out that at Cop9 in 1994 the proposal from SOUTH AFRICA was accepted with restrictions as per annotation 503:
Ceratotherium simum simum *(population of South Africa, for the trade in live animals to appropriate and acceptable destinations and hunting trophies only)
[An asterisk (*) placed against the name of a subspecies, species or higher taxon indicates that one or more geographically separate populations, subspecies or species of that subspecies, species or taxon are included in Appendix I and are excluded from Appendix II.]
At CoP10 a further proposal was made, again ONLY by South Africa to amend annotation 503: “to allow the trade in parts and derivatives, but with a zero export quota, of Ceratotherium simum simum [South Africa]” This proposal was defeated on two occasions, with a stronger defeat in the secret ballot and those opposing the proposal emphasized that adequate trade controls were not in place and that the proposed annotation might undermine efforts to reduce rhinoceros horn consumption in consumer countries.
Switzerland then proposed another annotation which was accepted: “All other specimens shall be deemed to be specimens of species included in Appendix I and the trade in them shall be regulated accordingly.” In light of this, it is clear that the specimens outside of South Africa and Swaziland are still deemed to be on Appendix I.
THEREFORE I DRAW THE CONCLUSION THAT THE SOUTHERN WHITE RHINOS SENT TO CHINA ARE NOW INCLUDED IN THE POPULATION OF CHINA AND FALL UNDER APPENDIX I AND ENJOY THE PROTECTION AFFORDED THAT CLASSIFICATION .
I previously assumed that Ceratotherium simum simum had been down listed to Appendix II whereas ONLY THE POPULATIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA and SWAZILAND had. An easy mistake to make, seeing as most of the world population of this species is to be found in those 2 countries. I apologise for that confusion.
This is why I requested that the Southern White rhino be moved “back” to Appendix I – whereas in fact it is already there with two exceptions:
SOUTH AFRICA and SWAZILAND (with restrictions that are not easily enforced).
SECONDLY, I wish to discuss reasons why another proposal must be made at CoP16 in March 2013.
THAT ANNOTATION 503 BE REVISED AS FOLLOWS:
· THAT TRADE IN LIVE ANIMALS BE SUSPENDED:
1. UNTIL POACHING LEVELS ARE BROUGHT BACK TO PRE-1994 LEVELS FOR SOUTH AFRICA AND SWAZILAND
2. UNTIL SOUTH AFRICA AND SWAZILAND ARE FULLY COMPLIANT TO LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO PROTECTION OF THE SPECIES.
· THAT THE HUNTING OF CERATOTHERIUM SIMUM SIMUM BE SUBJECT TO CERTIFICATION BY THE SCIENTIFIC AUTHORITY OF THE IMPORTING COUNTRY THAT THE IMPORT IS NOT DETRIMENTAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES AND WILL NOT BE USED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.
THAT ALL PARTIES COLLECT ALL AND ANY RHINO HORN STOCKPILES IN THEIR COUNTRIES AND BURN THEM TO DESTRUCTION.
Taking the following into consideration:
1. When South Africa first proposed the downlisting of Ceratotherium simum simum they failed to inform the Secretariat of the political agenda in the country, i.e. since 1989 they were in secret meetings with the ANC party to facilitate the handing over of the governance of the country which has had huge implications for the National Parks Boards and wildlife as will be explained later.
2. Part of the agenda was to sell off high value wild animals such as rhino so that private individuals (mostly farmers) could for the first time obtain these and conduct the business of wildlife farming – a relatively new industry. “During 1965 there were four fenced game ranches in former north-western Transvaal. Forty years later there are 5061 registered.” (du Toit) Similarly the Commercial hunting industry experienced rapid growth. “The Wildlife industry in South Africa… has proven to be very difficult to regulate.” (du Toit)
3. In their proposal at CoP9, South Africa set out the reasons why the status of the Southern White Rhino should be downlisted. They declared a healthy and growing population under effective management and living in the perfect habitat. They claimed that the rhinos could withstand the exploitation that trade would bring and that trade would not lead to reduction in controls in other species. None of these claims are valid today, 20 years on. In fact, since the sale of rhino to private owners the authorities and scientists have lost all control over the recording of population figures, except to say that the numbers don’t add up and this proves that horn is moving illegally from farmers to the Far East. (e.g. the Groenewald Gang arrested in 2010)
4. With regard to illegal trade, in 1994 they noted that legislation on penalties for poaching had been made stricter and the anti-poaching efforts allowed both black & white rhino populations to flourish (although just north of the border a different scenario played out in Zimbabwe where 65,000 black rhino had fallen to 2,500.) It is difficult to understand why this warning bell was ignored.
5. The proposers felt confident enough to promote privatization schemes and trophy hunting, even claiming that trade “will not result in an increased level of undesirable or illegal exploitation of the southern white rhinoceros, in fact the reverse is expected.” This has also proved to be wrong. Rhino species populations are decreasing and even going extinct due to unprecedented increases in poaching. e.g. the Western Black Rhino.
6. They were so bold as to discuss “Potential Controlled Utilization” such as darting safaris; the sale of horn, toenails and skin; slaughter for products (!) and ranching for horn. In 1994 rhino horn was used for Yemenite dagger making and TCM medicine. The proposers of this industry were surely aware then that rhino horn has no valid medicinal value. This has now been scientifically proven. A rumour of a cancer cure that was spread in Vietnam goes unfounded and exists only to open up new markets. As I have mentioned before – this is tantamount to fraud.
The majority of these products would be derived from natural mortalities OR live animals (using inhumane capture methods, darting with M-99, a practice rejected by animal welfare NGO’s)
7. Mention is made of supporting underprivileged communities in the vicinity of the parks. This has never been realized in any recognizable form. Usually the local communities are fobbed off with a rhino that they can sell for hunting or free handouts.
8. The same can be said for calls to educate the citizens of South Africa and the Far East, who are the traditional buyers of rhino horn. Lip service has been paid to this aspect, leading to further delays while species go extinct.
9. In their summary, the proposers were emphatic in their belief that the population of southern white rhinos was not endangered, but they conceded that it was certainly threatened. Despite having discussed the benefits of trade at length, they denied any wish to trade rhinoceros horn in any shape or form, although they wanted to trade the hides. AT THE VERY NEXT CoP THEY PROPOSED TRADE IN HORN! [CoP10 in 1997 proposed an annotation ° 503 to allow the trade in parts and derivatives but with a zero export quota (South Africa). It was rejected. ]
10. AT CoP9 The Secretariat REJECTED SOUTH AFRICA’S PROPOSAL AS IT STOOD AND RECOMMENDED : It should be accepted if the population in Appendix II is annotated as follows: "For the exclusive purpose of allowing trade in live animals.
All other specimens shall be deemed to be specimens of species included in Appendix I and trade in them shall be regulated accordingly."("accordingly" could be replaced by "in accordance with the provisions of Article III or VII of the Convention".). Doc. 9.47 Annex 3.
The original intention for allowing trade was described such by the Secretariat:
“exports are generally to zoos, safari parks and private land−owners setting up breeding groups. There are many potential importers who would use animals for exhibition, whose purpose of import would be clearly commercial. However, they would be able to import animals only if the species were transferred to Appendix II.
This intention has been abused. “South Africa: Rhinos and Lions Sold to ‘Hell Hole’ Zoo in BangladeshRhinos, lions, and other imperiled wildlife are being exported from South Africa to a Bangladeshi zoo with a dark and suspicious history.After purchasing at least 19 wild animals from a “safari park” in South Africa, government-run Dhaka Zoo apparently received its first shipment last week – pairs of white rhinos, white lions, striped hyenas, and a spotted hyena.” (New Age)
A proposal from the China Institute of Science and Technology Research, Beijing, entitled Proposal for Protection of the Rhinoceros and the Sustainable Use of Rhinoceros Horn – funded by the State Soft Sciences Project, Development for Traditional Chinese Medicine Research – contains troubling information indicating that China is already farming rhinos in order to use rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine. (Source: http://www.rhinoconservation.org (http://s.tt/1aul1)
THIRDLY, I would like to point out how the statements made in the 1994 proposal are misleading.
1. Since 1994, when the Government of South Africa changed hands peacefully, there have been great changes in style of leadership. For example, the CEO of SANParks, the organization that controls the Kruger National Park made the following statements recently: “It will be an unforgivable mistake if we were to accept the sickening tendency by a handful of ‘old-school’ conservationists appointing themselves as agents of positive societal change…. We therefore agree with our Minister when she refers to national parks as “hubs of economic development in our society”. This shows a lack of respect for both conservation and wilderness areas AND GOES AGAINST GLOBAL NORMS OF CONSERVATION IDEALS.
2. After being granted the right to trade rhinos from CITES, the National Parks Boards began a program of selling high value wildlife e.g. rhinoceros to wildlife farmer/ranchers. This led to serious abuse of the animals and I have discussed this in previous e-mails. It has been expressed by many experts that the illegal trade in wildlife is escalating, and happening at a scale that poses immediate risk to many animals and indeed people too because it is conducted with international crime syndicates, and aligned to other types of crime (e.g. horn for weapons).
3. Many organisations, including the Minister of Environmental Affairs in SA have described the current poaching crisis as uncontrollable. This was admitted by the officer in charge of anti-poaching in the Kruger National Park earlier this year. Despite this, security remains lax at most of the private and government owned rhino facilities, and no effort is made to step it up using readily available surveillance systems. Game wardens have been arrested for poaching, as well as ex-policemen, which shows the involvement of the very authorities appointed to protect them.
4. As many as 75% of the rhino farmer / ranchers are non-compliant with the registering and micro-chipping of their animals and horn stockpiles. (du Toit) TRAFFIC has been reporting on these irregularities for years.
5. Promises made by the authorities have not been kept. Earlier this year the Minister of Environment promised to re-erect the fence between the Kruger National Park and Mozambique. Unfortunately most of the opportunistic type of poaching is conducted by Mozambique nationals, as has been proven from arrests. Crucial to the protection of rhino in South Africa is a secure Kruger National Park as this is where the majority live.
6. Despite the fact that South Africa has had success in the past with a healthy rhinoceros population, we cannot sustain such a level of off take as we have seen these past 3 years.
Ever since CITES was first established the question of trade in rhinoceros horn has been raised over and over again and the issue of poaching remains a problem. Certain parties in South Africa, including Government parastatals insist on keeping the hope of trading horn alive. The International Community is not in agreement and attempts to compromise, for example by agreeing to the South African proposal in 1994, have only worsened the situation. Firm action must be taken immediately if the Southern White Rhino is to be spared the fate of other species, 2 of which went extinct in 2011 – one in a range and one in totality. The escalation of poaching and criminal activity is also driven by new found wealth & status in the Far East. This is going to increase, not lessen.
The last few thousand remaining rhinos on earth must receive the highest form of protection NOT increased exploitation. I could mention many other points of discussion but both the Secretariat and NGO’s such as TRAFFIC and IUCN are fully aware of the situation. Please be aware that many Rhino activists do as well and we will not let this matter be swept under the carpet again.
The media of the world has been alerted to this problem.
I HEREBY REQUEST THAT YOU, OR ANOTHER PARTY BE APPROACHED TO PUT FORWARD MY PROPOSALS A & B AS ABOVE . THIS IS NOT A CHANGE OF STATUS PER SE, RATHER THE REVISING OF A BAD DECISION THAT HAS PROVEN TO BE A FAILURE IN IT’S IMPLEMENTATION. IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT THAT A PROPOSAL BE MADE TO DESTROY ALL EXISTING HORN PILES BY BURNING SO THAT A CLEAR MESSAGE CAN BE SENT TO THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT:
“RHINO HORN IS OFF THE MENU FOREVER!”
RHINO S.O.S. South Africa