WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- South Africa has been allowed to nearly double black rhino trophy hunting numbers after vowing that the money will go to conservation funds.
- Despite opposition from NGOs, the decision was supported by other rhino states like Botswana, Zimbabwe, and the EU, at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Geneva.
- Supporters contended that the increased numbers will help increase the population of the animals because adult males that cause conflicts will mainly be targeted.
South Africa has been given the green light to raise the number of black rhinos that can be killed for trophies after asserting that the money earned will be used in the conservation of the critically endangered species.
The permission was given during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) following support given by some African nations amid opposition.
Although the number of poachers illegally trading rhino horns was wiped out in the past, the black rhino population is now escalating. Today, there are about 5,000 existing black rhinos, 2,000 of which are in South Africa.
South Africa has been permitted to sell hunting rights for five black rhinos per year since 2003. But the recent decision now allows them hunting rights for 0.5% of the population which is equivalent to nine rhinos. Adult males will be targeted says South Africa, in order to protect breeding females.
While a Gabon delegate opposed the request saying, “It is a very small population and threatened by poaching,” Kenya’s delegate argued the poaching decision would mean increasing almost half of the black rhino population with each year being lost. NGOs like Born Free also opposed the decision citing that the existing quota was rarely used by South Africa.
Several other rhino states though supported South Africa including Botswana, Zimbabwe and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), as well as the EU and Canada.
Tom Milliken, delegate of wildlife trade monitoring group, Traffic, maintained that the increased quota could help boost the black rhino population. He said that adult males usually cause conflicts, which prevents breeding in younger males and even killing females.
“You are basically preventing bar-room brawls and getting faster reproduction rates going,” said Milliken.
He added that since the high-priced black rhino trophy hunting costs several thousands of dollars, the money will definitely provide for conservation funds.
However, Elizabeth Bennett of the Wildlife Conservation Society, who was against the move, said: “WCS remains concerned about the impact of illegal hunting and trafficking of black rhinos for their horns. We encourage major efforts to ensure their protection, the prevention of trafficking, and that any trophy hunting is truly sustainable and supports, not undermines the conservation of the species.”
Meanwhile, the Cites, which is being held in Geneva with 183 nations attending, also discussed a ban on exporting wild African elephants to zoos and the plight of sea creatures such as sea horses being used in the aquarium trade and for Chinese medicine and the growing trade in ornamental fish.
Source: The Guardian