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Solutions to stop rhino poaching in South Africa put forward at the public hearing in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday 26 January 2012.

An interesting summary by Jon Morgan (Rhino Reality) of the public hearing on rhino poaching.

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs requested members of the public to submit proposals to them on possible solutions to the rhino poaching crisis that has swept through South Africa. From the 40 proposals submitted they asked 16 groups to attend the public hearing to present their solutions.

Groups attending and their proposed solutions:

1. The Department of Environmental Affairs opened with an overview of the current situation bringing us all up to date with the latest stats and figures they had.

  • Government needs to close down on hunting of rhino to nationals that come from countries with weak CITES control.
  • Only two exporters of illegal horn arrested in 2011.
  • Want to build an electric fence between Kruger National Park and Mozambique – estimated ZAR 240 million project.

2. Mr Andrew Muir – The Wilderness Foundation

  • Decisive leadership is needed by the South African government as South Africa has the majority of the world’s rhino and as such, are their custodians.
  • Mr Muir claims it costs ZAR 25 000 per rhino per year to protect – this means ZAR 500 million per year overall.
  • They would support a legalised trade of horn collected from rhino dying of natural causes.
  • He also stated that of the 150 organisations raising money from rhinos only 20 can account for how they use it.

3. Dr Joseph Okori – WWF South Africa

  • Spoke about the strengths and weaknesses of current initiatives.
  • No to trade until proper research has been done on numbers of rhino and end user markets.
  • Dr Okori said that many people saw the legalisation of rhino horn trade as a ‘silver bullet’.
  • This has been based on many economic assumptions, postulations and correlation to other non-sustainable forms of resource utilisation such as the diamond industry.
  • He stated that government has suitable systems in place but needs to look at the ‘drivers’ of the systems to combat poaching.

4. Mr Mike Knight – SADC Rhino Management Group

  • Private rhino owners in South Africa keep more rhinos than the rest of Africa combined.
  • He suggested that we need to establish environmental courts – an increase in the successful prosecution and sentencing of couriers, buyers and exporters will act as a deterrent.

5. Dr Wihelm Schack – EkoWild

  • Dr Schack proposed a joint African Asian Rhino Summit to build better relationships between Asian countries and SA.
  • He also proposed that we gift rhino horn to Asian countries initially free of charge to end rhino poaching and then introduce a trade system.

6. Mr Dave Balfour – Eastern Cape Tourism Agency

  • Called for increase in prosecutions of poachers along with harsher sentences.
  • Loopholes in the system should be identified and closed, including acquisition of horn through legal hunting.
  • He stated that rhino’s should be farmed in user countries for their horn (not in South Africa) as farming them in South Africa would put the conservation of the rhino gene pool at risk.

7. Mr Jabulani Ngubane – KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife

  • KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife have over seven tonnes of stored rhino horn from natural deaths.
  • Decreased rhino poaching by 13% in 2011 compared to 2010.
  • Deployed SANDF in strategic positions to protect rhinos.
  • Pro-trade

8. Mr Terry Bengis – an individual

  • Called for a moratorium on all activities around rhino, no hunting and no transportation for six months.
  • During this time controls would be put in place and all rhinos in South Africa need to be counted.
  • Stockpiles must be accounted for.
  • Opposed to legalised trade.

9. Ms Margot Stewart – an individual

  • Brought into the question the trade of rhino horn and called for the stockpiles to be destroyed.

10. Mr Michael Eustace – an individual

  • Pro-trade
  • Claimed the international ban on trade imposed in 1977 by CITIES had failed.
  • By legalising the trade in rhino horn it could save the species.

11. Mr Clive Walker – an individual

  • Pro-trade
  • Called for harsher jail sentences, consolidation in policies, and DNA sampling.

12. Mr T’sas Rolfes – an individual

  • Pro-trade
  • He stated that the market was a niche market and the best way to combat poaching is to legalise trade.
  • This would reduce prices and generate important revenue for conservation.

13. Mr Pelham Jones – Wildlife Ranching South Africa

  • Pro-Trade
  • Legalised trade and no to moratorium on hunting

14. Mr Galeo Saintz – Rhino Reality

  • Proposed educating the end user markets in Asia to end the demand for rhino horn.
  • Partnering with WildAid to drive this message home to a billion Asian’s per week.

15. Mr Kobus du Toit – an individual

  • Called for all rhino to have DNA samples taken and put into a national database.

16. Ms Belynda Petrie – an individual

  • Opposed to trade

Here are the top 15 tweets from rhino hearing that were tweeted on the day of the Parliamentary public hearing.

There was a strong divide between those calling for legalised trade in rhino horn as a commodity and those against it.

Only Rhino Reality dealt with the issue of educating the end user markets as a proposed solution out of the 16 submissions.



28 Responses to “16 proposed solutions to stop rhino poaching in South Africa”

  1. Bevan Gartrell

    Improve education at end user countries.

    Injecting substances into horns which will make humans sick .. and if some die because of a reaction to it, shame, they shouldn’t be taking it.

    Reply
  2. Mark shaw

    To every one at Rhino Reality Well done with your initiative, I agree that education is one of the ways to help/ slow down rhino poaching, footprints of hope an andbeyond and Africa foundation initiative has the same values.

    Reply
  3. Dave Kruger

    Maybe only one person/corporation brought up the education of the end user because all the others know how futile it is/will be to attempt to change the “majority” asian mindset..I speak in general here because there are a select few informed & enlightened asians who do not agree with rhino poaching & realise the fallacy of their cultural belief. I believe that the only way to protect our rhinos is through intensive border patrols, updating electronic intruder detection methods,(infra red detection beacons and live satelite observation0, shooting poachers on sight, using american border patrol methods might help here…and money, equipment, men and more money..

    Reply
    • Jon Morgan

      Hi Dave.
      Thanks for the comments and suggestions. We agree with you in that we still need lots of on the ground anti-poaching protection in place. To date with all the millions being spent on anti-poaching units ect we are still losing rhinos at an alarming rate, so our on the ground efforts need to change. The idea of sopisticated radar detection that picks the poachers up before they even have a chance to get into the reserve to poach the rhinos is a great one – this is proactive rather than reactive and this is what is needed. Work is being done in this field – http://www.getaway.co.za/environment/top-secret-radar-technology-put-rhino-poaching/
      Coupled with this we need to start an education program in Asia to end the demand for rhino horn as a commodity. If this step isn’t started and doesn’t happen at some stage then we will have to constantly spend millions each year to protect our rhino populations which isn’t feasible and realistic. We feel that a multi pronged approach to tackling the rhino poaching issue is needed.

      Reply
  4. Dale

    My wish would be to see all Rhino (both privately owned and in the National Parks) to have their horn treated, with the dye and microchiping work done. Have blanket media coverage done to advertise this fact, with warnings sent out on all Tourist and Governmental sites, advertising that this has been done and issue health warnings (like what is done with Malaria areas) , together with warnings of huge financial penalties and lengthy prison terms for anyone caught or associated with any dealings in illegal Wildlife contraband – both in our Country or through/over its Borders. This would include putting into place the means to enforce this stance.). Put a Moritrium on all ‘legal’ hunting (Trophy hunting or culling), until such times as the huge losses the Species has had, is stabalised to a point where there are more Rhino born than are dying ( * natural mortality or poached stats). Immediately have a National survey done to establish the EXACT number of Rhino in the Country – this has to be properly done (actual head count rather that ‘average nos in an area” thumb suck) and MUST include any privately owned Rhino – this to establish an ACCURATE NATIONAL DATA BASE. On an ongoing basis, have Government ensure that all laws protecting the Rhino are fully implemented and exsiting wildlife laws are enforced. Huge International and local education campaigns involving the teaching that ‘Rhino horn is not Medicine” get underway. DO NOT ENCOURAGE any trade in Rhino horn. (Destroy all stockpiles as this only allows for temptaion to have ‘leakages’ or dealings on the black market – if there is no horn to be had, anywhere, the demand has to cease) – no amount of money received for these horns now (as flooding the market will not necessarily stop the poaching) will compensate for the ‘encouraged’ use of/supply of horn which, in the very near future, will totally eliminate the 5 species of Rhino that are clinging on for grim death. What are the ‘consumers’ going to hunt/ seek out or use when all the Rhino are gone? Involve and bring in all the Neighbouring communities surrounding both the National and Private Game Parks/reserves, encouraging and facilitating them being proactive in the protection of our Wildlife. We cannot afford to be the generation that allows our (and almost the rest of the World’s too) Rhino population to go extinct! The need us and they need us NOW, to put aside our indifference to their plight/petty differences (like who can and cannot hunt) / and the corrupting power of greed and political clout, and SAVE OUR RHINO.

    Reply
  5. Margot WIlliams

    Is the horn ground to almost powder form for “human use” ? If so, the stockpiles of rhino horn should be mixed with tons of “synthetic” horn (hair gleaned from hairdressers globally) and the market should be absolutely flooded. There would then be no market for “new” horn. Of course if the horn were to be laced with something that would cause unwelcome side-effects, that would be even better.

    Education would be good too… “Do you REALLY comprehend where your Rhino horn comes from? ” This should be the caption under that terrible photo of young rhino baby snuggling against her DEAD Mommy who has just had her horn sawn off and her body all ripped up. It is so tragic.

    Reply
  6. liza petrie

    I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the pro-active dehorning of rhino under scientific and medical experts in order to remove the reason for poaching the animal. Obviously only if 100% safe for animal.

    Reply
  7. Les Carlisle

    We will win this war against rhino poaching by applying every tool and tactic available to us.
    No one plan will work everywhere, we need to apply every plan to the best of our abilities.
    We need innovation, focus and as much unity as is humanly possible.
    We must do everything to reduce demand , we must do everything to protect our resource and we must do everything to reduce the price of the rhino horn. We must be merciless and meticulous in our policing to hit every level from demand to supply side of the trade.

    Most importantly we must make our wildlife resources relevant and valuable to the communities that neighbour our parks, their input in protecting our rhinos is absolutly critical.

    Reply
  8. Margot Stewart

    The reason why everyone else seems stuck is because most of them seriously doubt the current statistics for rhino population figures. At the Committee meeting they varied from 16,000 to over 20,000 and some even question whether the figures are that high!! Until we have DISCOVERY (a full audit of current rhino population) we cannot move forward. It’s as simple as that. Your reportage of the meeting is abysmal. For example, Dr. du Toit informed us that there already exists a facility for capturing all necessary data on rhinos – all paid for and up and running but it has been “under utilized” – especially by the NW and Limpopo provinces. Education is a long-term solution. Our immediate requirements are for a FULL AUDIT and assistance with ANTI-POACHING. Medium term would be horn-treatment, increased security and liason with countries such as China /Vietnam etc.

    Reply
  9. Keighley-Ann

    I do tend to agree with you…there is a huge culture and traditional concept behind the medicinal use of rhino horn so the education will need to be strategic, smart and effective to combat the very challenges faced. Unfortunately, education alone won’t help the cause but by holding foreign governments accountable, through global conservation organisations like CITES/ UN etc, we can at least have added pressure on local governments in the east to help educate and fight the divide! That being said, the South African government, and any other African government piggybacking off of the benefits of safari tourism into their countries, are responsible for the well being of wildlife and they MUST show an aggressive action plan to ensure the survival of these animals. That being said, with the Chinese investment into Africa, this will be hard so the problem immediately jumps to money, greed, corruption and the lack of ethics.

    One this is for sure, no one approach will work, organisations and groups need to form a joint operation to ensure the survival of this species…at the moment there are too many doing this and that wasting time, money and energy by duplicating efforts 10-fold…if people can put their power trips and egos aside, we’ll have a much better chance of fighting this evil than what we currently do!

    Reply
  10. AndyW

    Thank you for this report Christie…i don’t think it’s “abysmal” seeing as all us readers could not be there to compare it to the event, and given the fact that any talk on this issue, any press, any debate (such as this) is a positive move forward.

    I am worried that by allowing any rhino horn to be traded, or any rhino’s to be dehorned for trade, we have already lost the battle. We have given in to the irrational demand and are allowing these people who use the horn to dictate to us what they need and when. We open a market and thereby accept that rhinos are commodities. So we are fueling the cultural beliefs in the East, which essentially is the problem, by allowing them access to our wild, beautiful LIVING AND HORNED rhinos! We lose the moral battle within ourselves by accepting that tempting offer. I do understand the economics behind it…demand and supply, flood the market, bla bla bla…I understand that the price will go down and that it makes it less cost effective for traders, that it kills the black market, and the price will sound less tempting for poachers to poach…but even thought its not a black market..its a market. There is a legal market for trees…does that stop us chopping down the amazon? There is a legal market for drinking cold coke on a hot day..does that stop us throwing the can onto the street. The way the consumers (humans) are treating rhino’s is not just about the rhino’s. This crisis is symptomatic of the way we treat the broader environment, and more importantly..the way we react to it now as South Africa will show our stance on the future when rhinos run out and lion claws go for sale, then tusks, then great whites of false bay. When the rhinos go they will find another species that allegedly cures runny noses, small willies, and whatever else these people seem to suffer from. Yes it makes economic ‘sense’ – but it does not make sense. We allow the asians to carry on as they please – consuming OUR national heritage, then we allow ourselves to be ok with looking at Rhino’s without horns. By being ok with looking at that, we lose a part of ourselves.

    The only time we should allow them to take horn willingly, is perhaps grinding down the entire stockpile, poisoning it, and then sending it all over there for them. You kill our rhino, we kill you precedent. That is all. Apologies for the essay.

    Reply
  11. murray kuun

    I am hoping that my little project will help save at least one rhino! I am donating ALL the proceeds of the sale of my “rhino” handmade guitar. The guitar is made from all-African woods and features a “rhino” inlay. This coming Thursday it will be played at the EWT “save the rhino” concert in Orange Grove. The guitar can be seen at my http://www.murraykuun.com and I would appreciate it, if the word can be spread by all interested parties. The sale will be by way of an e-mail “auction”.

    Reply
  12. GORDON FRAME

    MAKE THE SENTENCE A MANDITORY 15-20 YEARS FOR POACHING, TRADING OR EXPORTING RHINO HORN.YOU HAVE TO STOP THE TRADE AND SLAUGHTER OF THESE MAGNIFICIENT ANIMALS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

    Reply
  13. EMMANUEL KAAYA

    IN AREAS WITH FEW NUMBER OF RHINOS SANCTUARY APPROACH SHOULD BE USED AND INTENSIFY PATROLS….THIS APPROACH HAS WORKED VERY WELL IN SOUTH AFRICA AND KENYA

    Reply
  14. Caroline Mason

    Education is one of the key strategies to combat rhino poaching, but a long term one and must be started now. From what I understand, most end users have no idea how the rhino horn is ‘harvested’ and rightly believe that rhino horn grows back – but not on a dead rhino.

    We and others have started this process of eduction – to get the message out – with letters and articles in newspapers and forging links with people in South East Asia. We, at mad4life.org.uk believe that one of the best ways for people to experience rhinos in their natural habitat – visit Africa and go home as Rhino Ambassadors to spread the word that rhino horn belongs on a rhino and serves no medicinal use.

    This will take time and is only one strategy of many that are needed. However, we do not believe that trading in rhino horn should be legalised. This strategy failed miserably with ivory poaching.

    Reply
  15. Ash

    An idea is to poison the horns (without harming the animal) so that if that horn ends up in medicine it will kill the users. This information will quickly circulate in Asia amongst the potential users.

    Reply
  16. Mudau thetshelesani

    I thnk rhino pouchng should be stoped by military aircraft .aircraft wil monitor at de part druring the day and night.other thing is that as people we have to know the importance of having a rhino becose next generation wil not be able to see rhino.

    Reply
  17. kevin alexander

    i know its a shot in the dark but how about putting in high powerd metal detectors stratically placed in the reserves so as to pick up these poachers with ther firearms and these detectors can give off a silent alarm indicating the poachers positions.

    Reply
  18. Mudau thetshelesani

    I think the must be security to protect the game reserve day and night.people who caught doing riho poaching the must given a setence which is big so the wil be example to others

    Reply
  19. T Hofmeyr

    We have a large number of ex- SADF & Special Forces operatives in South Africa – some of them unemployed. Create a Special Task Force ( Not the Rag-Tag current so- called soldiers cavorting in KNP) consisting of ex – soldiers and Koevoet operatives – they know the bush, they know all the tricks of tracking and counter tracking, they know both animal and human behaviour in terms of surviving in the bush and most of them can converse in Portuegese. Let them operate under a very capable and experience commander like Genl Jooste and without the Politically Correct interverance by vastly imcompetent, lazy and stupid Government Officials they should exterminate these pests, show no mercy and then maybe the message will hit home!
    To sit in Parliament and regurgitate bleating noises about the birth rate of rhinos still exceeds the mortality rate blah blah and we cannot resort to violent means to stop the erradication of our rhinos, is crap! Africa has always been a savage but beautiful place – it takes a savage approach to get things done most of the time – why now an exception? I want my young daughter one day to grow up, and to realise her wish to become a ranger and to work in the KNP if possible – she would love to work with animals like rhinos and other species not so fleet on the hoove and also facing possible demise from our beautifull continent, just because our politicians and officials are either too ill equiped , stupid or corrupt to make tuff calls!

    Reply
  20. Alfred Sturges

    The best solution is to introduce counterfeit rhino horn into the black market. By artificially increasing the supply of rhino horn the price will decrease, reducing incentive to poachers. When the market discovers the presence of counterfeits it will also reduce demand because consumers will be less likely to pay high prices for something they do not know is genuine.

    Reply
  21. Lisa

    I work in Higher Education and it seems everyday there’s more and more students coming from China and Asian countries. I find the Chinese value their children’s education very much. They are the single highest spending demographic when it comes to overseas higher education (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-24537487).

    However, I believe there should be more education when it comes to debunking ivory and rhino horns “medicinal powers”. Perhaps this is too far fetched but perhaps we could sanction China with limiting access to an American/European education. Thus making parents and STUDENTS alike unhappy with their government and the wealthy ivory consumers. We need to make it culturally unacceptable to maim and kill animals for such a small portion of their entire being. The Chinese must learn that it is unacceptable to continue such practices – and I think it starts with the younger generations.

    If you take Apple for example. It is all over China with advertising and product. Why don’t they step up and make it unacceptable to buy (or want ivory)? They have everything a Anti Poaching Campaign needs! Make it a generational campaign. You will never change how the older generation looks at ivory but the best part of being young – trying to be different than your parents! And I feel the younger generations want similar social justices. It doesn’t matter what country you are from – look at all the change this past year.

    At the very least perhaps we could get more Asian students involved in conservation efforts. Show kids & students why it’s not just ivory but an integral part of the ecosystem. More importantly, that this animal felt pain when it was poached and killed (all for his horn). Perhaps you cannot change what the parents believe to be medicine but by providing a different experience perhaps we can shift a generations idea of what ivory on the shelf really stands for – a lost life.

    Reply

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