From: IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Published October 7, 2004 04:35 PM

White Rhino Caught in the Cross Hairs at CITES

White Rhino Caught in the Cross Hairs at CITES (Bangkok, Thailand — 7 October 2004) — The white rhino may again be the target of trophy hunters, pending an imminent decision at the CITES conference to reduce international trade protection for the critically threatened species.


A proposal has been submitted from Swaziland to downlist its population of white rhinoceros from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II and to allow live trade and trophy hunting.


“Not only would this proposal be disastrous for a species which is still severely threatened in much of its range, it sends a dangerous message that commercial interests outweigh the long-term survival of the species,” said Jason Bell, IFAW Southern Africa Director.


“The entire population of white rhino in Swaziland contains just 61 animals, so any trade would have an enormous impact.”


While the Southern white rhino is a conservation success story, rescued from near extinction nearly a century ago, the opposite is true for the Northern white rhino.


The situation for the Northern white rhinoceros is critical. In 1960, there were an estimated 2,250 animals, today only 25 animals are known to exist in a single population in the wild.


“With certain populations of the white rhino in a perilous situation, it would be highly detrimental to allow any increase in trade,” said Mr Bell. “Increased legal trade builds commercial value and demand for the animal parts, which drives the illegal market and incites poaching. You cannot localize this impact - it affects the entire global population.


“The purpose of the CITES convention is to protect species from overexploitation through international trade, yet two recommendations have already been made to allow export quotas for trophy hunting of the black rhino and an increase in the export quotas for trophy hunting of leopards in South Africa and Namibia.


“The world needs to take notice of these dangerous decisions being made at CITES and


encourage their governments to vote for conservation, not exploitation if there is any risk that it can drive a species to extinction.”


About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)


Founded in 1969, IFAW works to protect animals and their habitats. With offices in 15 countries around the world, IFAW works to protect whales, elephants, great apes, big cats, dogs and cats, seals, and other animals. To learn how to help animals, please visit www.ifaw.org.


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Contact:
Erica Martin (IFAW) — Tel: 09 40 42 645; Email: emartin@ifaw.org


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