CITES, Black Rhino market value increases

BANGKOK, Thailand - A global ban on hunting rare black rhinos was partially lifted on Monday to the chagrin of some conservationists who say the lumbering titan is still in danger.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, adopted a Namibian proposal that will allow the southern African country an annual quota of five black rhinos for trophy hunters.

A proposal by neighboring South Africa to allow five of the animals to be hunted each year was also passed at the two-week conference, which began on Saturday.

South Africa had asked for a quota of 10 black rhino, but reduced it to five at the start of the meeting to address the concerns of conservationists.

The proposals will be raised again during the plenary session next week but are almost certain to pass because they have overwhelming support.

“We appreciate this recognition of our conservation achievements,” Malan Lindeque, the top civil servant at Namibia’s Environment Ministry, told Reuters.

Conservationists' concerns

Africa’s black rhino has been snatched from the brink of extinction and its numbers are on the rebound, but it still faces many threats, conservationists say.

“We know rhinos are still being poached for their horns and the poachers are indiscriminate, so we think this proposal sends out the wrong signal,” said Jason Bell-Leask, director of the southern African branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Demand for rhino horn in East Asia, where it is valued for medical purposes, and in the Middle East, where it is used for dagger handles, has left a bloody trail in its wake.

Rampant poaching drove black rhino numbers down to about 2,400 in the mid-1990s from an estimated 65,000 just two decades before. Poachers typically hack off the horns and leave the hulking carcasses to rot under the African sun.

But today there are about 3,600 of them — some estimates are even higher — and Namibia and South Africa say only old males who are no longer breeding would be targeted, so the impact on the populations would be negligible.

The cash raised will also be ploughed into conservation programs. Black rhinos are expected to fetch tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

There is already limited hunting of the more numerous white rhino in southern Africa.

For more information regarding Namibian business interests behind the CITES proposal visit this list of African hunting lodges.
reprint, MSNBC
related site interest:
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
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