Why Rhino Poaching Isn’t High on the CITES Agenda

At the 66th meeting of the Standing Committee for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Geneva, Switzerland, from the January 11 to 15, deliberation over the plight of rhinos was brushed over in less than an hour.

Despite considerable efforts by range, transitional, and consumer states to combat rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking, the number of rhinos killed illegally in its core range areas in southern Africa remains alarmingly high.

Namibia has experienced a spike in rhino poaching cases last year, with the death toll rising from one rhino poached annually between 2009 and 2011 to 80 in 2015.

Zimbabwe had at least 50 rhino poached in 2015, more than double the figure lost the previous year.

Mozambique’s rhinos went locally extinct in 2013, and the country is implicated as a major base for poachers and illicit smugglers who operate cross-border incursions into South Africa’s famed Kruger Park, where the majority of the world’s remaining rhinos live.

In South Africa, where most of the fatalities have taken place, there are unconfirmed reports that poaching numbers might be down for the first time in seven years. But even if the figures are confirmed (the South African Department of Environmental Affairs is expected to make an announcement of 2015’s poaching statistics next week), it’s still not good news.

Elise Daffue, founder of StopRhinoPoaching.com, says there were about 1,160 reported cases of rhino poaching last year—a dangerously high figure.

Vietnam remains the primary consumer of rhino horn where the product is sold, mainly for medicinal purposes as a panacea for a range of ailments from cancer to a hangover.

Short Shrift for Rhinos

But rhinos have seemingly warranted scant attention at this week’s meeting of the Standing Committee.

This body is made up of regional representatives of the —> Read More