Wild and Free SA
Wild and Free SA campaign leader

Wild and Free SA appeals to His Royal Highness to use his considerable influence worldwide to oppose any proposal for rhino horn trade, no matter who suggests it, on the grounds that it is cruel and invasive to live animals; it has no medicinal worth and purports the myth that it does. It keeps the market in rhino horn alive and this in turn drives the horrific poaching and mutilation of this iconic beast.

1. In their proposal at CITES CoP9 in 1994, South Africa set out the reasons why the status of the Southern White Rhino should be down-listed to allow for live trade.
They declared a healthy and growing population under effective management and living in the perfect habitat. They claimed that the rhinos could withstand the exploitation that trade would bring and that trade would not lead to reduction in controls in other species.
Today, 20 years on, none of these claims are valid. In fact, since the sale of rhino to private owners, the authorities and scientists have lost all control over the recording of population figures, except to say that the numbers don’t add up and, we believe, this proves that horn is moving illegally to the Far East.

2. With regard to illegal trade, in 1994 South Africa noted that legislation on penalties for poaching had been made stricter and the anti-poaching efforts allowed both black & white rhino populations to flourish (although just north of the border a different scenario played out in Zimbabwe where 65,000 black rhino had fallen to 2,500 so it is difficult to understand why this warning bell was ignored.)
3. South Africa felt confident enough to promote privatization schemes and trophy hunting, even claiming that trade “will not result in an increased level of undesirable or illegal exploitation of the southern white rhinoceros, in fact the reverse is expected.”
This has also proved to be incorrect. Rhino species populations are decreasing and even going extinct due to unprecedented increases in poaching. e.g. the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in 2011.
4. South Africa were even so bold as to discuss “Potential Controlled Utilization” such as darting safaris; the sale of horn, toenails and skin; slaughter for products and ranching for horn. In 1994 rhino horn was used for Yemeni dagger making and TCM medicine. The proposers of this industry were surely aware then that rhino horn has no valid medicinal value. This has now been scientifically proven. A rumour of a cancer cure that was spread in Vietnam goes unfounded and exists only to open up new markets. This is tantamount to fraud.
The majority of these products would be derived from live animals using inhumane capture methods, darting with M-99, a practice rejected by animal welfare NGO’s.
6. In their summary, South Africa was emphatic in their belief that the population of southern white rhinos was not endangered, but they conceded that it was certainly threatened. Despite having discussed the benefits of trade at length, they denied any wish to trade rhinoceros horn in any shape or form, although they wanted to trade the hides. However, at the very next CoP meeting, they proposed trade in horn. It was rejected.
We believe that this constant push to trade horn from South African rhino owners is fuelling the market and driving the poaching.
7. There are other possible reasons for the increase in poaching, including evidence that rhino horn has been earmarked as an investment commodity and investors could be stockpiling rhino horn for future trade. There is also evidence of a deliberate attempt to drive the rhino species into extinction so that stockpile owners can bypass existing regulations and freely trade horn.

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