The South African government has released that latest figures for rhino deaths in the country. According to the latest news from South Africa Department of Environment, so far in 2014 about 442 rhinos have been killed for their horns by poachers. The statement that has been released also made it clear that no decision has yet been made into South Africa applying to CITES 2016 for the option to hold a rhino horn auction.
The Department has also highlighted that some reports circulating in the media are incorrect with regarding the government’s stance on a legal rhino horn trade. No decision has been made and that the department was given authority to just explore options with using a legal trade to try and influence the market and reduce poaching of the animals. No proposals have been finalised in respect of the legal trade and the Department of Environmental Affairs are continuing to boost anti-poaching operations to try and stem the current epidemic that is spreading across the national parks and wildlife conservancies across the country.
The Department reminds people not to be taken in by biased information that may be disseminated by some of the campaigning groups.
The statement goes on and says,
A Panel of Experts, under the chairmanship of the Deputy Director General: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr Fundisile Mketeni, has been appointed to assist the Inter-Ministerial Committee appointed by Cabinet to deliberate on the matters relating to a possible trade in rhino horn.
The Panel of Experts has started its work and will, in the coming months, listen to all sides of the trade debate before submitting a set of recommendations to the Inter-Ministerial Committee. No proposal to CITES will be finalised until all the questions related to the trade in rhino horn have been comprehensively debated and investigated.
The proposal to be tabled to CITES in 2016 will be based on sound research, take into consideration the terms of the recent London Declaration. It will not be influenced by any individual wanting to “line their pockets” or any group opposed to South Africa’s sustainable utilisation policies. The proposal is part of a set of holistic interventions introduced by government, SANParks and conservation institutions to stem the tide of rhino poaching.
However despite the report not yet being ready the statement also goes on to say that,
While the government’s decision on whether to table a proposal at the CITES COP17 or not will be based on the outcome of the Inter-Ministerial process, South Africa believes that legalising the trade in rhino horn will in no way contribute to increased poaching.
The statement also refers to the often quoted statement attributed to Minister Molewa when she said “South Africa did an ivory once-off sale and elephant poaching has not been a problem since” When she aid this she was referring to the South African elephant population. Since the sale there has not been a problem with elephant poaching in South Africa and procedures are in place to ensure the elephant poachers operating across Africa do not enter South Africa.