On the eve of the International Wildlife Trade Conference in Hanoi, WildAid united more than 100 prominent Vietnamese business leaders with a pledge to never consume rhino horn or other illegal wildlife products. In a show of solidarity, the nation’s top business leaders joined our call and urged stronger enforcement and more effective wildlife conservation action.
Consumer demand for rhino horn in Vietnam has fueled crisis-level rhino poaching in South Africa. That’s why WildAid Ambassador Sir Richard Branson to fly to Ho Chi Minh City last year for the launch of “Pledge on Wildlife Conservation and Ending Demand for Rhino Horn in Vietnam” with an elite and influential group of business leaders. Since then, another 75 top CEOs and over 250 executives have also signed on.
The growing corporate support in Vietnam to end the rhino horn trade is a clear signal to private citizens that consumption must end. To ensure that their message is heard, WildAid published the list of business leaders who took the pledge with full-page advertisements in leading publications. Our Vietnam team has also been busy producing a microsite that is being promoted throughout the country supported by our continued efforts to share public service announcements and prominent billboards in major cities.
What’s scarier than the goriest slasher film? How about a stuffed tiger fetus? Or what about 45,000 dead seahorses — dried, wrapped in plastic and sitting in a cavernous warehouse full of seized illegal wildlife products?
Frighteningly enough, both – and even worse - can be found at the National Wildlife Property Repository just outside of Denver.
Coleen Schaefer, Supervisory Wildlife Repository Specialist runs the repository for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, providing tours to bring the grim reality of the thousands of animal products trafficked in the U.S. annually. The 22,000-square-foot facility is filled to the rafters with tiger skins, ivory tusks and trinkets, traditional Chinese medicines made from rhino horn and various parts from endangered species.
TAIPEI (October 28, 2016) — Raids led by officials from the Taipei District Public Prosecutors Office have uncovered caches of illegal wildlife products throughout Taiwan, including rhino horn and bear bile.
According to government officials, a total of 21 packages of powdered rhino horn, 50 packages of bear bile powder, 124 packages of musk, and 18 pieces of suspected rhino, bull and antelope horns were seized from multiple locations.
Officials also confirmed that they are interrogating 12 individuals regarding the illegal wildlife products including the Honorary Chairman of the Taipei Traditional Chinese Medicine Association, Lien Chun-ying.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Lien used his trading company as a cover to smuggle wildlife products into Taiwan from mainland China. He is alleged to have run a secret supply chain via social media to sell products such as rhino horn to his customers, claiming to offer “life saving medicines.”
Patients and their families paid high prices for these products, and after discovering that they did not possess the promised medicinal effects, alerted officials to Lien’s operation. Lien and his associates are alleged to have made about $3.2 million over the past three years of smuggling and selling the illegal wildlife products.
JOHANNESBURG — Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have voted overwhelmingly to protect rhinos by rejecting a proposal to legalize the rhino horn trade. The proposal submitted by Swaziland to legalize rhino horn trade was defeated 100-26 with 17 abstentions.
Over the past decade, nearly 6,000 rhinos have been killed for their horns — primarily in South Africa, where 5,098 were poached between 2005 and 2015 to supply a lucrative black market.
Proponents of legal trade argue that they can tightly control the trade by limiting it solely to horn legally taken from living rhinos and legitimate stockpiles, and claim they will use the revenue to support anti-poaching.
International wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $10-20 billion per year annually, making it one of the world’s largest illicit trades after illegal drugs, arms and human trafficking. The United States is a chief consumer of wildlife products (both legal and illegal), but a recent poll commissioned by WildAid found 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about illegal wildlife trade within the United States. As a result, travelers often are unaware that products they bring into the United States are prohibited.
JOHANNESBURG (May 4, 2016) – Prominent South African celebrities have come together to launch a campaign for decisive action to solve the rhino poaching crisis that the nation has grappled with since 2008.
The campaign features well-known South African personalities such as DJ Fresh, Springbok rugby player Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, comedian Marc Lottering, actress Masasa Mbangeni, DJ Poppy Ntshongwana, Super Rugby players Siya Kolisi, Scarra Ntubeni and Joe Pietersen and model-entrepreneur Maps Maponyane, many of whom visited the bush to see wild rhinos for the first time as part of the campaign.
“There’s a common belief in conservation and government circles that only wealthier, white people are concerned with rhino and the future of wildlife, but our research shows that conservation is strongly supported by people of all races and incomes," said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. "Conservation is a unifying issue in an often deeply divided country. You don’t need money to care about wildlife; your voice matters, too.”
CAPE TOWN (April 21, 2016) — After months of speculation, South African officials said Thursday that they will not submit a proposal to legalize trade in rhinoceros horn to the 17th Conference of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to be hosted in Johannesburg in September.
SAN FRANCISCO (February 10, 2016) — WildAid and the Center for Biological Diversity today formally petitioned the Obama administration to ban the sale and export of so-called “synthetic” rhinoceros horn. Trade in the biologically engineered faux horn could accelerate consumer demand in Asia for illegal wildlife products that has caused rhino poaching rates to skyrocket across southern Africa.
Rhino horn is coveted by some in Vietnam and China as a status symbol and as a panacea for ailments and diseases, from hangovers to cancer. There is no scientific evidence that rhino horn has medicinal value but rhinos in Africa and Asia are gravely imperiled due to demand for their horns. Several populations have already been poached into extinction, while others, such as the northern white rhino, have dwindled to just a few individuals. Experts believe the best way to save rhinos is to reduce consumer demand for rhino horn.
The good news is that history has shown that we can beat this illicit trade: Past public campaigns against rhino horn have previously succeeded in putting pressure on nations to crack down on the trade. For example, in 1994 the Clinton administration imposed unprecedented sanctions against Taiwan for its failure to stop rhino horn sales. The international scrutiny and well-publicized penalties resulted in Taiwan stepping up enforcement against the market, which also was banned in China and other countries. The rhino horn trade collapsed until economic growth in Vietnam, coupled with new rumors of rhino horn’s anti-cancer effects, revived consumer demand.
South Africa’s Minister for Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, announced Thursday that 1,175 rhinos were poached in the country during 2015. This is a slight drop from 2014, when a record 1,215 poached rhinos were officially tallied, and is the first year since 2007 that has not shown an increase over the previous year. Kruger National Park, the epicenter of poaching in the region, recorded 826 rhinos illegally killed in 2015, one fewer than 2014’s total of 827.
Minister Molewa hailed the reduction as “very, very good news” and said it “offers great cause for optimism”. She attributed it particularly to the efforts of law enforcement and security agencies who, she said, had managed to avert the spike in poaching that normally occurs around December as poachers seek extra money for the Christmas holiday season. She said that South Africa’s rhino population “continues to be stable” according to the most recent census data.