Sport Hunting Quotas for Rhino Trophies Railroaded Through CITES Committee



CONTACT:          Adam Roberts, Animal Welfare Institute
2255-3767 Room 1104 (Bangkok)
07-126-1466 (Bangkok mobile)

October 5, 2004

Will Travers, Born Free Foundation
2255-3767 Room 1103 (Bangkok)
01-302-5974 (Bangkok mobile)

Bangkok, Thailand—The 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) began on a depressingly sour note when CITES Committee I approved export hunting trophy quotas for endangered black rhinos from Namibia and South Africa. The proposals are likely to face renewed fierce opposition when they come to the full plenary next week.

"We are deeply concerned that trophy hunting quotas for rhinos tentatively have been approved early in the CITES meeting, over the strenuous objections of some CITES Parties and a number of non governmental organizations," declared Adam Roberts, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Institute. "The Species Survival Network, a global coalition of more than 80 organizations representing many millions of concerned citizens, urges Parties opposed to these dangerous decisions to ask for them to be reconsidered when the proposals are revisited by the full CITES plenary.  The only acceptable trade in surplus male black rhinos should be for in situ reintroduction programs to bolster other critically endangered populations in Africa."

Sources inside the Committee room raised concerns about the actions of the Chair who apparently tried to unduly push the proposals through without a vote.  "Although the Chair of Committee I declared approval of the black rhino quotas by overwhelming consensus, she and I apparently have a significantly different interpretation of what 'consensus' really means," declared Will Travers, CEO of the UK-based Born Free Foundation.  "In my mind, when Parties such as the Central African Republic, Tchad, Nepal, India, and Kenya, a black rhino range State, speak out against these proposals, one simply cannot maintain that overwhelming consensus was reached."

Winnie Kiiru of Born Free Foundation (Kenya) expressed concern that renewed trophy hunting quotas for this species "would send a horrible message to poachers that the rhino trade is open again.  One has to ask why the global community would allow Africa's black rhinos to be shot for trophies, while seeking to eradicate trade in horns for traditional medicines or ceremonial purposes.  If this isn't overturned, rest assured, poaching will escalate across Africa, including in my home country - Kenya.  It's quite simple, really, all international trade in black rhinos must be prohibited."

*CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

  • The black rhino (Diceros bicornis) is a Critically Endangered species. The numbers of black rhino across Africa declined by 90% to just 2,410 rhinos in 1995. Improved protection has seen numbers rise to 3,100, but this is still a far cry from the 1970 estimate of 65,000 rhinos.
  • This is the first time trade in black rhino has been approved since the species was originally listed on Appendix I.
  • The species is still threatened by poaching to satisfy the illegal trade in rhino horn for Yemeni dagger handles, traditional Chinese medicines, and ornaments.
  • Namibia and South Africa argue that 'surplus' males could be sacrificed from their populations for trophy hunting. Namibia and South Africa have asked for an export quota for 5 black rhino each.
  • Removal of animals from the breeding pool through trophy hunting or other consumptive uses will jeopardize the gene pool and the availability of animals for live reintroduction to save the species.
  • Both Namibia and South Africa also succeeded in preliminarily winning approval to increase their export quotas of leopard trophies.  Namibia increased its quota to 250, after remaining at 100 since 1992; South Africa doubled its quota to 150, after remaining at 75 since 1992.  The Species Survival Network also opposes both of these leopard quotas.

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