Update #39 ·

Update on February 17, 2013

Dear Secretary – General Scanlon


The members of RHINO SOS South Africa and over 28,500 signatories to the attached petition respectfully request that CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) suspend all trade of the Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) population of South Africa and Swaziland. 

The reason for our request is because South Africa is in breach of the criteria that CITES requires for trade to continue.  It is highly non-compliant to CITES regulations in that it has not properly and efficiently implemented existing legislation; it has failed to combat and reduce illegal trade and the statistics it submits are incomplete and inaccurate.

Granted, it has made tentative steps to providing the above but the record shows that it has failed miserably.

1.  According to a presentation made by Dr. du Toit in the South African Parliament on Jan 26th 2012 three-quarters of the private rhino breeders had not supplied data to the national register.  By August 2012 the number had improved but two thirds of the data had never been provided.

2.  The poaching statistics climb unabated, 668 rhinos were declared poached by the authorities in 2012 and 49 days into 2013 we are already sitting on a total of 96.  We are fast approaching the stage where illegal trade will tip the population into negative growth.

3.  The signatories are concerned that important decisions are being made with regard to the species in the absence of reliable information on population figures;  distribution between government owned rhino and semi-domesticated privately owned;  pseudo poaching;  the exact number of rhinos that are falling to poaching (including foetuses) and how this will impact on future population figures.

4.  The trend is that wild rhino are being decimated in wilderness areas but are being populated on wildlife ranches with intention of future trade in horn.  This will not only lead to the extinction of an iconic flagship species in the wild but will affect the viability of wilderness areas that form its natural habitat.


Perhaps the most important reason for bringing in a suspension of trade for this species is to impede the current drive by private rhino owners to once again force governments hand into proposing for rhino horn trade.  Because the majority of rhino horn stocks are government owned, a conflict of interest has arisen and government is now unable to make an unbiased decision.  The risk exists that it will collude with the pro-traders because it stands to gain a huge short-term influx of funds should this ever be allowed. 

Sir, mistakes have been made in the past and rhino species have been lost to extinction because of that.  We urge you to read the Petition and the Updates in their entirety and give serious thought to our request so that never again may CITES have to deal with the disgrace of having stood by while that happened.

We urge you not to delay, but to apply the discipline that is needed to halt the renegade wildlife industry of South Africa in its tracks by implementing a SUSPENSION OF TRADE urgently.

Because Swaziland has also received the same relaxation of restrictions for their White Rhino population the Suspension must include that population as well.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information in this regard.

Yours sincerely,

Margot Stewart

RHINO SOS South Africa

to comment