Pledge About

Rhinos

South Africa shoots rhino poachers, but lets kingpins walk, new report finds

Rhino poaching middlemen and kingpins continue to operate with impunity in South Africa, according to a new WildAid report, which reveals how the country has failed to prosecute or sufficiently punish those arrested for high level involvement in rhino crimes.  

WildAid's report cites repeated examples of case dismissals, postponements and paltry fines, most often associated with suspects coming from the professional hunting, game farming or veterinary industries. Low level poachers, by contrast, are often shot or jailed for lengthy terms.

Domestic rhino horn trade could fuel poaching, WildAid warns

South Africa’s top court has ruled in favor of allowing domestic trade in rhino horns, WildAid has learned. Since 2009, a government-backed moratorium had been in place preventing the sale of horns within the country.

A legal challenge was brought against the moratorium by private ranchers who own large populations of the animals, and who are believed to be stockpiling horns in hopes of selling them commercially. WildAid is concerned that legalizing domestic rhino horn trade opens the door to additional illegal horn exports.

“There is no domestic demand for rhino horn products and, as the pro-trade lobby very well knows, the reason why the moratorium was implemented in the first place was to prevent domestic trade from being used as a cover for smuggling," said Susie Watts of WildAid's Africa Program. 

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Vietnam’s Business Leaders Take a Stand to Protect Rhinos

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. 

Tour of the Macabre at the National Wildlife Property Repository

Andrew Wegst (courtesy USFWS)

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.

Taiwan Busts $3.2 Million Wildlife Trafficking Network

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.

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WildAid Applauds Vote Rejecting Legal Rhino Horn Trade

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. 

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Is the Illegal Wildlife Trade a U.S. Problem?

WildAid CEO Peter Knights speaks at one of two launch events of WildAid's U.S. campaign with U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Following the release of a new survey showing shocking declines in African elephant numbers, WildAid and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have launched #StopWildlifeTrafficking, a nationwide public awareness campaign against the illegal wildlife trade in support of the White House National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking.

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.

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WildAid Launches South Africa Campaign to Save Rhinos

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.”

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South Africa Rejects Rhino Horn Trade Legalization

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. 

WildAid Calls for Ban on Synthetic Rhino Horn Exports

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. 

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