Judge Francis Legodi of the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday set aside a moratorium on the in-country rhino horn trade, causing consternation in conservation circles worldwide. Two prominent wildlife farmers (including John Hume, the world’s largest rhino owner) had applied to the court to overturn the moratorium, which they claimed was irrational, unreasonable and a violation of their constitutional rights.
The moratorium was imposed in 2009 by the environment ministry because of its view that the domestic trade was providing a loophole through which poached horn was flowing into international trafficking networks. Supporters of the moratorium argue that because there is no substantive consumer market for rhino horn in South Africa, there is little incentive for South Africans to trade horn unless it is ultimately being sold on highly profitable Asian black markets.
Judge Legodi set aside the moratorium because of procedural errors made by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) just prior to it coming into effect and not because he agrees with the wildlife farmers’ substantive arguments regarding the rationality, reasonableness and constitutionality of the moratorium.
In crude terms, the judge struck down the moratorium on technicalities, not because he found the rhino farmers’ core arguments to be valid.
HONG KONG — About 50 people marched noisily through the busy streets of Hong Kong's main ivory trading district of Sheung Wan on Saturday, once again calling on the Hong Kong government to ban the city's out-of-control ivory trade. It is the fifth such street protest in just two years.
The latest protest was organized by Sean Lee Davies of Project C:Change and Ted Hodgkinson from Hong Kong's The Elephant Society. The star attraction of the protest, billed by Project C:Change as Hong Kong's first “Maasai March,” was Daniel Ole Sambu, a Maasai warrior from Kenya and Predator Protection Programme Coordinator for Big Life Foundation, a Kenya-based NGO that is fighting illegal poaching and habitat destruction.
As Daniel walked amongst the many stores selling ivory, some possibly poached in his own backyard in Tsavo, Kenya, he appeared visibly shaken. According to the South China Morning Post, Daniel said, “It’s horrible because all I see are dead elephants,” Daniel told the South China Morning Post.
A day earlier, WildAid supporter and Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat introduced a measure aimed at stepping up government efforts to combat wildlife crime and to ban the city's ivory trade. If passed by Hong Kong's 70 legislators on Wednesday next week, the measure would make it much more difficult for the Hong Kong government to further drag its feet on the issue, triggering the legislative process towards a domestic ivory sales ban sooner rather than later.
Last night, Team WildAid was beyond proud to celebrate our international ambassadors in Los Angeles, as we work together to end the illicit trade in ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products that are driving a global poaching crisis.
The event, hosted by the Montage Beverly Hills, raised over $2.5 million to support WildAid’s programs throughout the world. In only a few short months, we’ve expanded our mission to include programs in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand, in addition to our established work in countries such as China and Vietnam. The support of WildAid donors is vital to our work; thank you so much!
We also had the privilege of awarding actress Maggie Q with our 2015 Wildlife Champion Award. A WildAid ambassador since 2012, Maggie stars in the “Ivory Free” campaign, urging consumers not to buy ivory products, as well as the “I’m FINished with Fins” campaign against shark fin soup. She has filmed several PSAs, and has participated in multiple photo shoots and media interviews to help raise awareness of the plight of animals around the world.
Joining Maggie at Saturday’s gala were Fergie & Josh Duhamel, Paula Abdul, Chevy & Jayni Chase, Tanzanian music artist Alikiba, Kristin Bauer, Michael Cudlitz, Bo Derek & John Corbett, Junior Nyong’o, Amy Tan and many, many more devoted WildAid supporters.
HONG KONG (23 October 2015) —Hong Kong’s “legal” ivory market is willfully obstructing newly announced efforts by China and the United States to end ivory sales, at a time when thousands of African elephants are dying at the hands of poachers, according to a new report released by WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation with accompanying undercover footage provided to the organizations.
While China and the US have recently pledged landmark commitments to halt the ivory trade, the Hong Kong government has resisted such a move. Officials from Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) continue to insist “the Hong Kong government has strict control mechanism in place over sale of ivory” and is comparable to other nations. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Over several months, investigators uncovered overwhelming evidence of ivory traders flouting licensing regulations with impunity, coaching tourists on how to smuggle purchased ivory, and routinely replenishing legally held ivory stocks with illegal ivory laundered into Hong Kong from recently poached African elephants. Click here to download the full report.
WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation call on the Hong Kong government to ban ivory sales, and to conduct an independent inquiry to address longstanding regulatory loopholes and illegal smuggling.
With the United States and China making public commitments to halt the ivory trade, pressure is mounting fast for Hong Kong to do the same.
Due to its high overall trade volumes, easy access to mainland China, and lax regulation and supervision, Hong Kong is a global hub for the ivory trade. Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory obtained prior to the 1989 international ban on the commercial ivory trade. But the "legal" market is replenshing its original stock with ivory from recently poached elephants.
Two hard-hitting reports out Wednesday uncover this illicit trade that is fuelling the elephant poaching epidemic in Africa. The Washington Post reports that while American and Chinese pledges to enact near-complete bans is historic, the "spotlight is turning to Hong Kong."