South Africa gets go-ahead to increase black rhino trophy hunting

South Africa gets go-ahead to increase black rhino trophy hunting

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has won permission to almost double the number of black that can be killed as trophies after arguing the money raised will support conservation of the critically endangered species.

The decision was made at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) after receiving support from some African nations and opposition from others.

South Africa gets go-ahead to increase black rhino trophy hunting
There are now about 5,000 black rhinos, almost 2,000 of them in South Africa. Photograph: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

supplying the illegal trade in rhino horn decimated numbers in the past but the population is now growing. About 5,000 black rhinos exist today, almost 2,000 of them in South Africa.

Since 2003, South Africa has been allowed to sell rights for five black rhinos a year. The latest decision means it can take up to 0.5% of the population, meaning nine rhinos at today’s levels. South Africa said adult males would be targeted, to protect breeding females.

The request was opposed by Gabon, whose delegate said: “It is a very small population and threatened by .” Kenya’s delegate said the move, along with , would mean almost half the population increase each year being lost. NGOs also opposed the move, with Born Free’s delegate noting South Africa rarely used its existing quota.

But South Africa was supported by other rhino range states including Botswana, Zimbabwe and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), as well as the EU and Canada. South Africa agreed not to use the full quota if the rhino population fell below a certain level, but did not specify what this would be.

Tom Milliken of Traffic, a monitoring group, said the higher quota could help increase black rhino numbers. Older males could cause conflicts, prevent younger males from breeding and even kill females, he said. “It is a positive: you are basically preventing bar-room brawls and getting faster reproduction rates going,” Milliken said.

He said the black rhino was one of the highest-priced trophy animals, costing tens of thousands of dollars to hunt. “It really is providing conservation funds,” Milliken said.

But Elizabeth Bennett of the Wildlife Conservation Society 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 is truly sustainable and supports, not undermines, the conservation of the species.”

An earlier vote at the Cites meeting delivered a ban on wild African elephants being exported to zoos. Zimbabwe has sold dozens of elephants to Chinese attractions in recent years. The new rule says the only acceptable destinations are wild, native habitats.

The vote outcome could be overturned in the final session of the summit, which signs off all decisions. This is because the EU, which opposed the move, failed to vote.

Ivonne Higuero, the secretary general of Cites, said: “There was some confusion about credentials [proofs of identity required to vote]. Maybe there was a lack of preparation. Everyone can raise their voice at [the final session].”

The meeting of 183 nations, being held in Geneva, also considered the plight of sea creatures, and there was unanimous support for giving seahorses more high-profile protection. They are much sought after in the aquarium trade and for .

Cites has restricted international trade in all 44 seahorse species since 2002. Trade in live and dried specimens has fallen by 75% and 90% respectively in the past decade, but many millions still change hands each year.

The US delegate told the summit: “They are vulnerable because of their low birth rate, long parental care and habitat degradation. Ongoing illegal trade poses a threat to the survival of the species.”

The summit also agreed to increase focus on the soaring trade in marine ornamental fish, including many coral reef fish and sharks. The trade supplying public and private aquariums has increased 60-fold since 2000, with 1.5bn fish now sold each year.

The EU delegate said: “There is an obvious need to assess the trade as [it is] one of the major threats.” However, the European Pet Association said the approved Cites initiative was not balanced.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 19 August 2019.


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Irene Leggett
Irene Leggett

Of course they would say that the extra money will go towards conservation…..what a bare-faced LIE. The only people that will get rich are the money-grabbing, profiteering, fat-assed ‘hunting’ brigade. Anything to keep hunters murdering wildlife, no matter how endangered the animals are or how rare. In my opinion they ought to open a hunting season on HUNTERS, let their heads be hanging on a wall as a trophy, let their body parts be ground up to make FAKE medicines, let their skin be used as a rug and let their teeth be carved into a trinket. The only GOOD… Read more »

Alison Moanique

south africa should be ashamed

Dragan Romic



More bad news for rhinos. Why do humans think they have the right to destroy what is already becoming an endangered species for “sport” and, of course, money. Once again, in Africa, corruption wins. Once it’s extinct it’s gone forever. This applies to elephants, giraffe and every other species that these corrupt African countries feel are there for so-called sportsmen to kill and them to make blood money from. They seem to think that these species will last forever. Not so – once they are extinct they are gone forever. We are the most deadly species on the planet –… Read more »

Arlene Steinberg
Arlene Steinberg

WE are the species that needs to go extinct and be gone forever!

John Bevegård

hi gr4eat o johnyb.

Charlene Trimble

NOOOO … Please, tell me this ain’t true!!!

Jorge Rivera


Joyce Dannheim

This is terrible. Rhinos are on the brink