WASHINGTON, DC, March 22, 2010 – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) welcomed new protections for rhinos around the world – which are suffering a major upsurge in poaching – in a new decree issued today during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting.
Countries with rhinos agreed to focus on increasing law enforcement, training of guards, strengthening border controls, improving rhino population monitoring, creating awareness- raising campaigns in consumer countries such as Vietnam, and rooting out organized crime syndicates that are behind the increase in poaching and illegal trade.
"The countries gathered at CITES should be applauded for their united commitment to eradicate poaching and help slow the decimation of rhinos around the world,” said Matthew Lewis, WWF Senior Program Officer for African Species Conservation. “This was a strong showing of political will that can help save rhinos in both Africa and Asia – but it must be backed by action on the ground.”
Rhino poaching worldwide hit a 15-year high in 2009. The illegal trade is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers who are now using veterinary drugs, poison, cross bows and high caliber weapons to kill rhinos.
The decisions adopted were based on a recently released report that reported a decline in law enforcement effectiveness and an increase in poaching intensity in Africa. Vietnam was highlighted as a country of particular concern – Vietnamese nationals operating in South Africa have recently been identified in rhino crime investigations. It also raised concerns about the low and declining numbers as well as the uncertain status of some of the Sumatran and Javan rhino populations in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The report was released by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“CITES governments must now commit to a complete crackdown on the illegal international and domestic trade so that we can turn the tide on rhino poaching,” said Dr Joseph Okori, coordinator of WWF’s African Rhino Conservation Program. “WWF remains committed to supporting range state governments as they take on this challenging task.”
- Wildlife Trade