Professional hunters doubt ban would help save rhino

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  1. AfricaHunting.com

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    Professional hunters doubt ban would help save rhino

    Record numbers of deaths of rare wildlife prompt DA to call for moratorium on lucrative industry, writes Sue Blaine


    THE Professional Hunters Association of SA (Phasa) would support a moratorium on legal rhino hunting if it helped to put an end to poaching and the misuse of hunting permits, says CEO Adri Kitshoff.

    Democratic Alliance (DA) environment spokesman Gareth Morgan yesterday called for a moratorium on rhino hunting, until it was better overseen.

    The role of trophy hunting is the poaching of rhino emerged after recent media exposes showed that trophy hunting was often used as a cover by poachers, with almost 200 rhinos killed illegally in SA in the first half of the year.

    Yesterday three men were arrested in connection with rhino poaching in Limpopo. Next week , Chemlong Lemtongthai, a Thai national and an alleged rhino-poaching syndicate chief, is to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court. He is accused of acquiring fake hunting permits for Thai prostitutes before "legally" selling trophies to a front company in Asia.

    Richard Emslie, scientific adviser to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s African rhino specialist group, says a possible moratorium is being discussed with the Department of Environmental Affairs. But he notes that hunting has played an "extremely important" role in rhino conservation, bringing in revenue, stimulating breeding, and encouraging landowners to acquire more land for conservation.

    Ms Kitshoff says banning legal hunting will not stop poaching or the misuse of permits. Phasa members involved in these illegal activities will have their membership revoked.

    She says Phasa has contributed almost R7m to conservation over the past six years, paying for the training of 700 conservationists working throughout Southern Africa.

    Department of Environmental Affairs spokeswoman Roopa Singh says the department will comment later.

    Mr Morgan says the DA is "very aware" moratoriums can have unforeseen consequences, which is why any moratorium should come with a commitment from Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa that she would improve hunting regulation. The ministry should conduct a "full audit" of rhino hunts over the past 18 months, Mr Morgan says.

    "It needs to be established to what extent government officials and professional hunters have been knowingly complicit in rhino hunts that have led to the rhino ‘trophies’ entering the international rhino horn trade," he says.

    The latest Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) report on rhinos, dated November 2009, says the combined horn loss from poaching, theft, misuse of legal trophy hunting and illegal private sales suggests that a minimum of 1521 horns were lost between January 2006 and September 2009. This is more than double the minimum of 664 lost between 2000 and 2005. Cites notes "an immediate escalation in rhino poaching" since SA implemented new trade controls and hunting regulations in 2008.

    Meanwhile, Ms Molewa and her Mozambican counterpart, Alcinda António de Abreu, are to meet soon to discuss ways to curb rhino poaching in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which straddles the borders of both countries and Zimbabwe. Most of the rhinos SA lost this year — 126 — have been taken from the Kruger National Park, part of the transfrontier park.

    Dr Emslie says it is important that Mozambique reviews its anti-poaching laws and the "pitiful" penalties meted out for rhino poaching and illegal possession of rhino horn.

    SA is home to almost 90% of the world’s estimated 22800 rhinos. The animals are under unprecedented attack linked to increased demand in Asia, particularly Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, thought to be sparked by increased affluence in the East. There is a mistaken impression that the horn — made of keratin, the fibrous structural proteins that make up hair and nails — has medicinal properties, including as a cure for cancer.

    The Cites report indicates that "a minimum of 470" rhino were poached in seven African countries between January 2006 and September 2009 and lists "at least 10" successful prosecutions for rhino crimes in SA since 2006 and an average penalty of 10 years in jail for poaching and two years for possession. With Sapa.


    Source: BusinessDay.co.za
  2. James.Grage

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    if this take place it will speed the poaching of what white rhinos are around...

    as has been said if it has no value the animals will be pushed aside...

    what about the game ranches...will this ban carry over to them?

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