WWF statement on rhinos at CITES

Posted on 12 March 2013  | 
Carlos Drews, head of WWF’s delegation at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) issued the following statement today in response to decisions from world governments to offer better protection for rhinos:

“Governments today made a clear choice at CITES to offer more protection to rhinos by agreeing on timelines that will help two of the worst offenders in the rhino horn trade, Viet Nam and Mozambique, clean up their act. 

"This is a big step forward for the protection of rhinos, a prehistoric animal that are being butchered for their horns at alarming rates to feed demand primarily in Viet Nam.

"A record 668 South African rhinos were killed by poachers last year, and close to 150 have died so far in 2013 - we're already moving at a pace that could see even more rhinos killed for their horns than last year.

“The challenge now is to ensure that Viet Nam and Mozambique make progress on their CITES commitments within the agreed time frame to avoid trade sanctions in the summer of 2014.”

Viet Nam is the main destination for rhino horn and is now required to implement a strategy to reduce demand in the country and ensure horn traffickers are prosecuted and strongly punished. 

Today’s success also means that Mozambique, a major transit country for rhino horn, must strengthen legislation and enforcement to reduce trade flows exiting the African continent. It is currently only a misdemeanour to smuggle rhino horns through Mozambique. The country shares a border with South Africa’s Kruger National Park, home to most of the world’s rhinos and also the epicentre of illegal killing. 

Rhino poaching has hit record highs and is currently exacerbated by increasingly sophisticated criminal networks. There is also a marked increase in consumption in Vietnam, fuelled by claims that rhino horn cures cancer and hangovers.
Southern white rhinoceros adult and calf. The white rhino is listed by the IUCN and all other conservation groups as endangered. Many game wardens and researchers routinely risk their lives to help protect this species from poachers. New and innovative management programs are being developed to help save this magnificent creature. Just over 4000 white rhinos exist in the wild today. Southern Africa and East Africa.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon Enlarge
Sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties 3 - 14 March 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand
© CITES Enlarge

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