Friday, 27 January 2017

VIETNAM: Vietnam Rhino Sanctions Says WWF

Conservation organisation WWF says Vietnam needs to crack down on its rampant illegal rhino horn trade or face sanctions.

WWF said that as the world’s largest market for illegal rhino horn, Vietnam’s failure to shut down illegal markets, disrupt the trafficking networks and prosecute the traffickers would be in the spotlight as the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) takesplace in Johannesburg from September 24 to October 5.

This will be the fourth meeting of Cites on the African continent since it came into force in 1975, but it will the first held on the continent since 2000.

South Africa has lost nearly 6 000 rhinos to poachers since 2007, including more than 700 so far this year, so rhino issues will be high on the agenda.

This week Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said there had been a significant increase in the number of arrests of alleged poachers this year.

She said a total of 414 alleged poachers had been arrested in South Africa since January 1 – of which 177 were in the Kruger National Park and 237 for the rest of the country. She said rhino poaching had declined by 17.8 percent in the Kruger National Park.

“Between January and the end of August 2016, a total number of 458 poached rhino carcasses were found in the KNP, compared to 557 in the same period last year.” However, nationally 702 rhino had already been poached since the beginning of 2016.

Molewa said there was also concern about an increase in elephant poaching, despite the determined efforts by rangers, the police and soldiers on the ground.

Since January, 36 elephants had been poached in the Kruger National Park.

Despite widespread evidence of rhino horn openly for sale in Vietnam, the authorities have made no significant rhino horn seizures within their borders and have reported no successful prosecutions. Ginette Hemley, WWF Head of Delegation to Cites said ending the illegal rhino horn trade and helping to save Africa’s rhinos was clearly not a priority for the government.

“Specifically, Vietnam must agree to enact new regulations to treat wildlife crime as a ‘serious crime’ with a minimum sentence of four years in prison; legislate to treat fake rhino horn as real rhino horn for enforcement and prosecution purposes; and successfully target and prosecute illegal traders and traffickers.” WWF said the illegal ivory trade would also be a major agenda item at the conference.

It said Cites Parties should also give greater trade protection to a range of species, including all eight species of Asian and African pangolins, thresher and silky sharks, devil rays, African grey parrot, rosewood trees, and flapshell and softshell turtles.