Department of Environmental Affairs clarifies its efforts to thwart rhino poaching in the country
3 Jul 2012
The Department of Environmental Affairs would like to quash allegations by animal rights activists that criticised efforts to address on-going rhino poaching, urging them to be part of the solution instead of playing to the gallery.
South Africa has to date lost a total of 262 rhinos to illegal killings since the beginning of this year and a total of 173 individuals have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching.
Targeted provinces include Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal which collectively account for 100 poached rhinos. South Africa will continue all its efforts locally and internationally to address the on-going scourge.
To this end, on the issue of permitting for trophy hunting permits, the Minister has amended the Norms and standards for the marking of rhinoceros and rhinoceros horn and for the hunting of rhinoceros for trophy hunting purposes to strengthen requirements relating to hunting.
The amended Norms and Standards came into effect on 10 April 2012 and include, among others that the applicant must submit the following information to the issuing authority:
(a) Proof of membership of a hunting association in the country of usual residence of the hunting client. The hunting association must be recognised by the government of the country of residence of the hunting client; or
(b) A curriculum vitae, indicating his/her hunting experience in his/her country of usual residence; or
(c) Proof of previous experience in the hunting of any African species
The above requirements enable the issuing authorities to determine whether the applicant is a bona fide hunter. In addition to the above, the issuing authority must also consider whether the country of usual residence of the hunting client, where the rhinoceros horn and the rest of the trophy will be imported to, has adequate legislation to ensure that the rhinoceros horns and the rest of the hunting trophy will be used for the purpose as indicated on the permit.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has recommended to all Provincial Conservation Authorities, responsible for the issuance of hunting permits, to refuse all applications for white rhinoceros hunting by foreign hunters whose state of usual residence is Vietnam; until Vietnam has confirmed, in writing, that all rhino trophies exported since 2010 are still in the possession of the hunters. The CITES Management Authority in Vietnam informed the Department and the CITES Secretariat that they are undertaking this process. A list of permits endorsed at OR Tambo has been provided to Vietnam.
Since the above measures have been implemented, the number of applications for hunting has reduced and no further applications from the alleged consumer states (China, Vietnam, and Thailand) were received. Currently, all hunting applications are submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs to verify whether the applicant has hunted a rhino within the specific calendar year.
According to the norms and standards a hunting client may only hunt one white rhinoceros within a specific calendar year. Based on the register kept by the Department, no further applications from alleged consumer countries have been received.
Delivering the Department of Environmental Affairs' Budget Vote Speech, Minister Molewa informed Parliament of her plan to engage stakeholders with a view to reaching national consensus on proposals relating to international trade in CITES listed species. This includes discussions with major role-players on whether or not to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn. The final recommendations from the stakeholder engagement process are expected in September. To give effect to her intention, the Department has appointed a Rhino Issue Manager to coordinate stakeholders' inputs through dialogues.
The first workshop had taken place in Midrand on 30 May 2012 and it drew a diverse range of stakeholders consisting of conservation authorities, scientists, non-governmental organisations and private game farmers, amongst others, who contributed constructive comments for the way forward.
Although we acknowledge the need to intensify our efforts, the DEA is humbled by the sixty-first (61st) meeting of Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which commended our efforts as a country in curbing rhino poaching and the scourge of illegal trade in rhino horn.
The CITES Standing Committee noted that rhino poaching and illegal trade in rhino horns is a global phenomenon which is also occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Mozambique, Nepal and Zimbabwe. South Africa's experience and intervention measures in fighting the illegal trade were well received and other member states affected by the same problem were encouraged to follow suit. CITES further appealed to alleged consumer states to further improve controls and enforcement relating to the illegal trade in rhino horns.
There are other interventions being implemented in pursuit of resolving the rhino poaching problem. They include the on-going bilateral with consumer countries such as Peoples Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In the African continent, the Minister is holding on-going bilateral discussions with Mozambique and have since made a pledge to tighten its security and elevate some offences to receive more severe penalties.
South Africans are urged to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings to 0800 205 005.
Kindly find the link on the latest update on rhino poaching statistics: http://www.environment.gov.za/?q=content/update-rhino-poaching-statistics-03-july-2012
Statement issued by Albi Modise, Department of Environmental Affairs, July 3 2012
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