On September 10, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it proposes to list the southern white rhinoceros as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Listing this subspecies will help conserve all rhinos worldwide by aiding international law enforcement efforts to fight poaching and crack down on trafficking in rhino horn.
Rhino poaching has reached unprecedented levels. Four of the five rhino species surviving in the wild today (black, Sumatran, Indian, and Javan), as well as the northern white rhino subspecies (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), are fully protected as endangered under the ESA. But differentiating between horns and horn products made from the southern white rhino and the other species/subspecies is extremely difficult. This similarity has allowed traffickers to pass off the horns of endangered rhinos as "southern white rhino horn" to evade restrictions on sale and transport.
The proposed rule seeks to protect the southern white rhino as a threatened species under the ESA's "similarity of appearance" provisions and prohibit the sale or offer for sale in interstate commerce of this species and its parts and products, consistent with all other rhino species.