Breaking! Protections For Southern White Rhinos Are Kept In Place At CITES After Namibia & Eswatini Unsuccessfully Requested To Allow Hunting

In a great relief to conservationists fighting to save our earth’s most endangered species, governments convening at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva, Switzerland, have shown no appetite for lifting bans on trade in rhinos and their horns.

The government of Eswatini in Africa had put forward a dangerous plan to downgrade protections for its dwindling southern white rhino population from Appendix I to Appendix II. This would allow commercial trade in rhino parts, including its horn, which is pushing this ancient species towards extinction.

Namibia had also suggested downgrading its rhino population to Appendix II in order to allow commercial trade in live animals and trophy hunting. The rhino population in both countries is unstable and highly vulnerable to poaching.

“The international trade in rhino horn has been banned since 1977, and to reopen it would be a disaster for the survival and welfare of this magnificent species. The news that Eswatini’s dangerous proposal was defeated at CITES is a huge relief for all of us dedicated to preserving the rhino for future generations,” Adam Peyman, Wildlife Programs and Operations Manager of Humane Society International, said in a statement. “There are only 66 southern white rhinos left in the wild in Eswatini, so opening up trade internationally for their horn would not only almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin for this species nationally, but it would very likely result in increased poaching in other rhino range states in Asia and Africa, as well as increased demand for horn in Asia.”

Peyman also pointed to the fact that law enforcement officers are struggling enough as it is to hold back the tide of rhino poaching and trafficking. To have a chance to save rhinos from extinction, the ban on global commercial trade needs to hold firm.”

“There are only 1,037 southern white rhino left in the wild in Namibia, and across Africa they are considered Near Threatened, so defeating Namibia’s attempt to reduce CITES protections was an important victory for the survival of this species,” continued Peyman. “Namibia’s conviction rate for poaching is already woefully inadequate so any reduction in protections would have been highly dangerous and irresponsible.”

The decisions will need to be approved in a plenary session at the CITES Conference on August 27th or 28th.

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