CITES backs better rhino trade protections amid global poaching crisis

Posted on 22 March 2010  | 
Doha, Qatar – WWF welcomes a decree for better trade protections for rhinos made today during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting, which comes amid a global poaching crisis.

Countries with rhinos agreed to focus on increasing law enforcement, training of guards, strengthening border controls, improving rhino population monitoring, creating awareness raising campaigns in consumer countries such as Vietnam, and rooting out organized crime syndicates that are behind the increase in poaching and illegal trade.

"We congratulate the countries gathered at CITES for their united commitment to eradicate rhino poaching,” said Dr Joseph Okori, coordinator of WWF’s African Rhino Conservation Programme. “The political will shown at this meeting can help save rhinos in both Africa and Asia if it is backed by conservation programs on the ground and good law enforcement.”

Rhino poaching worldwide hit a 15-year high in 2009. The illegal trade is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers that are now using veterinary drugs, poison, cross bows and high caliber weapons to kill rhinos.

The decisions adopted were based on TRAFFIC/International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report, which was released before the CITES CoP and reported a decline in law enforcement effectiveness and an increase in poaching intensity in Africa. Vietnam was highlighted as a country of particular concern – Vietnamese nationals operating in South Africa have recently been identified in rhino crime investigations. It also raised concerns about the low and declining numbers as well as the uncertain status of some of the Sumatran and Javan rhino populations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“CITES governments must now commit to a complete crackdown on the illegal international and domestic trade so that we can turn the tide on rhino poaching,” said Dr. Okori. “WWF remains committed to supporting range state governments as they take on this challenging task.”

White rhinoceros. Newborn calf with characteristic pink skin.
White rhinoceros. Newborn calf with characteristic pink skin.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY Enlarge

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