Rhino Crisis Round Up: Pregnant Rhino Murdered, CITES Meeting Controversy & More

This week, the 61st meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held in Geneva. Meanwhile, the carnage continued in South Africa with the brutal murder of a pregnant rhino.

Three lives lost

A private farm in Brits was the scene of yet another rhino killing in South Africa.

The pregnant rhino was found brutally slaughtered with one of her horns cut off, and a baby rhino that had been missing was also found dead.

According to WWF, at least 250 rhinos have been killed this year in South Africa.

In 2010, 333 rhinos were killed because of the myth that rhino horn has curative properties.

Rhino horn on the agenda

With illegal rhino horn trade figuring prominently on the agenda, WWF singled out China, Vietnam, and Thailand in a media release about the CITES meeting.

It was noted that South Africa needs to “do more to regulate the issuance of hunting permits and to create a more robust approach to prosecutions”, since the country is the main supplier of rhino horn to the illegal market.

The NGO said that Vietnam has been unwilling to “address the problem”, despite being a major destination for illegal rhino horn.

WWF also expressed concern regarding Thailand’s involvement with illegal rhino horn trafficking and China’s multimillion dollar rhino horn scheme.

At the time of this writing, EIA tweeted that China claimed the live rhino imports from South Africa were for “zoos only.”

Exclusion attempt

Although this next incident involves elephants, I’ve included it here because both rhinos and elephants are threatened by illegal trade, driven by demand from the same consumer markets.

Tensions were particularly high on Wednesday when the CITES Standing Committee voted to exclude NGOs from discussions on elephants and illegal ivory trafficking.

The motion was tabled on behalf on behalf of the Asian region by Kuwait, despite objections by the UK, USA, Kenya and Australia.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) suspects that China was behind the move, since the country is “facing a barrage of criticism for failing to clamp down on its illegal ivory trade.”

WWF’s African Rhino Coordinator, Dr. Joseph Okori, agreed.

Given that the major consumer markets for illegal ivory, rhino horn and tiger products are located in Asia, particularly in China, Vietnam and Thailand, one can only assume that this motion was an attempt to evade proper accountability.

Fortunately, a second Committee vote defeated the proposal and NGOs were back in the meeting.

Early World Rhino Day celebration

Although World Rhino Day is slated for September 22nd, an early celebration will take place in Australia!

Volunteers from the Asian Rhino Project will descend upon the central business district of Perth on Friday, September 2nd for a “tin shake” fundraiser from 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

If you want to join up with the Asian Rhino Project for this fundraiser, please contact sophie.dentrinos (at) asianrhinos.org.au for more information.

The Asian Rhino Project (ARP) is an Australian non-profit, volunteer organization raising awareness and support for the three Asian rhino species: Greater one-horned (Indian), Javan, and Sumatran rhinos.

Find out more about World Rhino Day at “Mark Your Calendar: World Rhino Day is September 22 {Videos}.”

Photo #2 courtesy & © Pam Krzyza; #3 courtesy & © TRAFFIC; #4 courtesy of Kerry Crosbie, Asian Rhino Project; #1 © iStockphoto.com

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