Solutions to stop rhino poaching in South Africa put forward at the public hearing in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday 26 January 2012.
An interesting summary by Jon Morgan (Rhino Reality) of the public hearing on rhino poaching.
The Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs requested members of the public to submit proposals to them on possible solutions to the rhino poaching crisis that has swept through South Africa. From the 40 proposals submitted they asked 16 groups to attend the public hearing to present their solutions.
Groups attending and their proposed solutions:
1. The Department of Environmental Affairs opened with an overview of the current situation bringing us all up to date with the latest stats and figures they had.
- Government needs to close down on hunting of rhino to nationals that come from countries with weak CITES control.
- Only two exporters of illegal horn arrested in 2011.
- Want to build an electric fence between Kruger National Park and Mozambique – estimated ZAR 240 million project.
2. Mr Andrew Muir – The Wilderness Foundation
- Decisive leadership is needed by the South African government as South Africa has the majority of the world’s rhino and as such, are their custodians.
- Mr Muir claims it costs ZAR 25 000 per rhino per year to protect – this means ZAR 500 million per year overall.
- They would support a legalised trade of horn collected from rhino dying of natural causes.
- He also stated that of the 150 organisations raising money from rhinos only 20 can account for how they use it.
3. Dr Joseph Okori – WWF South Africa
- Spoke about the strengths and weaknesses of current initiatives.
- No to trade until proper research has been done on numbers of rhino and end user markets.
- Dr Okori said that many people saw the legalisation of rhino horn trade as a ‘silver bullet’.
- This has been based on many economic assumptions, postulations and correlation to other non-sustainable forms of resource utilisation such as the diamond industry.
- He stated that government has suitable systems in place but needs to look at the ‘drivers’ of the systems to combat poaching.
4. Mr Mike Knight – SADC Rhino Management Group
- Private rhino owners in South Africa keep more rhinos than the rest of Africa combined.
- He suggested that we need to establish environmental courts – an increase in the successful prosecution and sentencing of couriers, buyers and exporters will act as a deterrent.
5. Dr Wihelm Schack – EkoWild
- Dr Schack proposed a joint African Asian Rhino Summit to build better relationships between Asian countries and SA.
- He also proposed that we gift rhino horn to Asian countries initially free of charge to end rhino poaching and then introduce a trade system.
6. Mr Dave Balfour – Eastern Cape Tourism Agency
- Called for increase in prosecutions of poachers along with harsher sentences.
- Loopholes in the system should be identified and closed, including acquisition of horn through legal hunting.
- He stated that rhino’s should be farmed in user countries for their horn (not in South Africa) as farming them in South Africa would put the conservation of the rhino gene pool at risk.
7. Mr Jabulani Ngubane – KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife
- KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife have over seven tonnes of stored rhino horn from natural deaths.
- Decreased rhino poaching by 13% in 2011 compared to 2010.
- Deployed SANDF in strategic positions to protect rhinos.
8. Mr Terry Bengis – an individual
- Called for a moratorium on all activities around rhino, no hunting and no transportation for six months.
- During this time controls would be put in place and all rhinos in South Africa need to be counted.
- Stockpiles must be accounted for.
- Opposed to legalised trade.
9. Ms Margot Stewart – an individual
- Brought into the question the trade of rhino horn and called for the stockpiles to be destroyed.
10. Mr Michael Eustace – an individual
- Claimed the international ban on trade imposed in 1977 by CITIES had failed.
- By legalising the trade in rhino horn it could save the species.
11. Mr Clive Walker – an individual
- Called for harsher jail sentences, consolidation in policies, and DNA sampling.
12. Mr T’sas Rolfes – an individual
- He stated that the market was a niche market and the best way to combat poaching is to legalise trade.
- This would reduce prices and generate important revenue for conservation.
13. Mr Pelham Jones – Wildlife Ranching South Africa
- Legalised trade and no to moratorium on hunting
14. Mr Galeo Saintz – Rhino Reality
- Proposed educating the end user markets in Asia to end the demand for rhino horn.
- Partnering with WildAid to drive this message home to a billion Asian’s per week.
15. Mr Kobus du Toit – an individual
- Called for all rhino to have DNA samples taken and put into a national database.
16. Ms Belynda Petrie – an individual
Here are the top 15 tweets from rhino hearing that were tweeted on the day of the Parliamentary public hearing.
There was a strong divide between those calling for legalised trade in rhino horn as a commodity and those against it.
Only Rhino Reality dealt with the issue of educating the end user markets as a proposed solution out of the 16 submissions.
Tags: Project Rhino KZN, rhino hearing, rhino poaching, Rhino reality, rhinos, world rhino day, WWF South Africa
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