Archive for the ‘CITES’ Tag

Canada opts not to block international trade in 76 endangered species   2 comments

From:  CBC News

Canada expressed reservations at 2013 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

The Canadian Press Posted: Dec 10, 2014 1:30 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 12, 2014 8:21 AM ET

Canada has declined to restrict international trade for 76 endangered plant and animal species, including the manta ray. (David Loh/Reuters)

 

Recently released documents indicate the federal government has reservations about restricting international trade in endangered species — more of them than almost any other government on Earth.

The papers show that Canada has opted out of nearly every resolution to protect endangered species taken at last year’s meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Delegates from 180 countries voted to extend protections to 76 plant and animal species from soft-shelled turtles to tropical hardwoods.

Canada, however, filed “reservations” against all those motions, meaning Canadian trade in those species will continue as normal.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “I can’t think of any explanation for it.

“I’ve been told no other country has ever taken such an action.”

‘Technical’ reservations, Environment Canada says

The protections were voted on in March 2013 at the last CITES convention in Bangkok. According to a document released earlier this fall, Canada chose to opt out of all but one of the motions that upgraded species protections.

Canada’s 76 reservations, all filed in 2013, dwarf those of other nations. Over the entire 39-year history of the treaty, Iceland has filed 22 reservations; Japan 18 and the United Kingdom eight. The United States has filed none.

Canada filed a reservation about protecting the manatee, despite not harvesting the animal. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

 

Few of the species Canada declined to protect have significant domestic value. A small East Coast fishery exists for the porbeagle shark, but Canada does not harvest manatees, manta rays or ebony.

Environment Canada spokesman Danny Kingsberry said the reservations are temporary and the protections will eventually come into law.

“Canada, as with many other parties to the convention, requires additional time to make the necessary regulatory changes,” he said in an email. “These reservations are technical in nature, not substantive, and were made to allow Canada sufficient time to amend its domestic legislation to reflect the changes.”

But the text of the agreement says reservations are “a unilateral statement that (a country) will not be bound by the provisions of the convention relating to trade in a particular species.”

As well, Fink said, Canada has previously managed to produce regulations well within a 90-day grace period allowed under the treaty.

“As far as I’m aware, this has never been a problem for Canada,” she said. “There is no logical explanation for Canada to place reservations on all of these species, and no plausible excuse for a 20-month delay in updating our legislation.”

The government has also failed to follow through with a promise last August to update its wild animal and plant trade regulations, said the animal welfare fund.

‘No logical explanation’ for 76 reservations

Canada’s stance baffles its international partners, said Fink.

‘There is no logical explanation for Canada to place reservations on all of these species, and no plausible excuse for a 20-month delay in updating our legislation.’– Sheryl Fink, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare

“For Canada to opt out of its obligations under CITES for every single species that was listed, when we don’t even have a commercial interest in the species, it has no logical explanation as far as anyone can tell.

“It’s something that’s been noticed in the international conservation community — why has Canada done this?”

Canada has been fighting a rearguard action at CITES over polar bears. It has been working to stop the organization from further restricting trade in polar bear parts.

Support for Canada’s position, however, has been declining.

In 2010, CITES considered banning all trade in polar bear parts and the European Union voted in a single bloc with Canada against it. In 2013, after major European countries including the United Kingdom and Germany said they opposed Canada’s polar bear hunt, the EU simply sat on its hands.

 

Serow: Eaten to the brink   1 comment

From:  The Star Online

BY TAN CHENG LI

Endangered species: Serows in a zoo. Already rare in the wild, they are now in further decline due to poaching. — Filepix

Endangered species: Serows in a zoo. Already rare in the wild, they are now in further decline due to poaching. — Filepix

 

Serows are being hunted and traded in Peninsular Malaysia, in violation of strong wildlife laws.

We all know about tigers, elephants and rhinos going extinct. But there is one little-known animal that is just as endangered – the Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis). This antelope-like mammal inhabits mainly an unforgiving habitat of steep forested mountains, limestone hills and quartz ridges, and so have remain little-studied.

However, they have not escaped the scrutiny of poachers. Just like tigers, pangolins, turtles, tortoises, sun bears, rhinos and deer, serows, too, are hunted for their meat and body parts.

The easy availability of serow meat in exotic meat restaurants, as well as seizures of serow body parts (used in traditional medicine and for purported magical purposes) from smugglers reveal that hunting of this species might well be rife.

Researchers from Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring group, have raised concerns that poaching is driving the species to decline in Peninsular Malaysia.

A paper, Observations of Illegal Trade in Sumatran Serows in Malaysia by Traffic South-East Asia regional director Dr Chris R. Shepherd and programme manager Kanitha Krishnasamy, states that “despite robust legal protection, widespread poaching and illegal trade continues”.

“Few people know what serows are or are even aware of their existence, and therefore this remarkable animal receives little attention from conservationists, researchers or enforcement agencies,” they say.

Of the six species of serow found worldwide, only one occurs in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and southern Thailand.

Though found throughout the peninsula, they appear to be concentrated largely in the north, especially in the states of Kelantan, Perlis and Perak. Many of the populations are believed to be small and isolated.

Wildlife sanctuary

In 1936, the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Ulu Klang, Selangor, was gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary chiefly to protect the serow.

The species, however, is rarely seen there now due to hunting. It suffers a similar fate in Bukit Takun, Selangor, and also Genting Highlands.

Aside from being hunted for trade, the species is also threatened by habitat destruction caused by limestone quarrying, logging and habitat fragmentation by roads, plantations and other human-altered landscapes.

All these have pushed the species to the category of “vulnerable to extinction” in the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A wildlife officer with serow body parts seized from a bomoh couple in Kampung Ulu Jepai, Lenggong, Perak, in 2007. — Filepix

A wildlife officer with serow body parts seized from a bomoh couple iin Kampung Ulu Jepai, Lenggong, Perak, in 2007. – Filepix

 

In order to highlight the threats to the serow and its conservation needs, Traffic had compiled information on illegal hunting and trade of the species between 2003 and 2012. Serow meat is prized among consumers of wild meat.

In a 2012 survey of restaurants serving such fare, Traffic researchers discovered serow to be the most commonly observed totally protected species on the menu, being sold for up to RM30 per serving. Of the 165 restaurants that were surveyed in Peninsular Malaysia, 18 offered serow meat: Johor (six), Pahang (five), Perak (three), Malacca (three) and Selangor (one).

Based on seizure reports, the researchers found that at least 10 serows were hunted in the Belum-Temengor forest in Perak between 2009 and June 2013. Serow hunting is known to be both targeted and opportunistic. In forests where wildlife poaching is common, the species is also threatened by snares, which indiscriminately kill a wide range of species.

In April 2012, Traffic staff had encountered a man who had a serow head soaking in oil, at a rest stop along the East-West Highway, some 15km from Belum-Temenggor forest. The following month, Traffic researchers detected a serow hunter on an online forum frequently used by army personnel. The hunter had explained in detail how he tracked the elusive animal in the Temengor forest, the weapons used, and hunting hotspots.

Totally protected

The serow is totally protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. So, anyone found guilty of hunting, taking or keeping serow parts or derivatives is liable to a fine of between RM100,000 and RM500,000. The minimum fine goes up to RM200,000 if the offence involves a female serow, and RM150,000 if it is a juvenile serow. Offenders also face a possible jail term of up to five years.

Also, the serow cannot be traded internationally, as it is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Under the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008, anyone caught importing or exporting serow parts can be fined between RM200,000 and RM1mil, and can be jailed for up to seven years.

Despite laws with bite, there has been minimal prosecutions. The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has recorded only 10 confiscations of serow parts in the 10 years from 2003 to 2012, and only five cases resulted in convictions (see table).

One of the goriest find was that of six chopped up serows, which were being boiled by a couple who were both bomoh (shaman) in March 2007, in Lenggong, Perak.

However, for reasons unknown, the couple, said to have been using serow parts for healing rituals for over 35 years, were not prosecuted.

Information on illegal trade of serows which has been collected by Traffic has been passed on to Perhilitan for action.

Unfortunately, the researchers say the outcome of these reports is not often known or made publicly available. They urge Perhilitan to intensify monitoring of restaurants selling wild meat, traditional medicine shops and faith healers, and to take action against violaters. They also call on the judiciary to issue maximum penalties to offenders, to serve as a deterrent.

 

‘Wildlife at risk without funds’   Leave a comment

From:  The Star Online

Clear and present danger: Wildlife poachers in Lahad Datu transporting sambar deer carcasses in the back of their truck in this photo provided by WWF Malaysia.

Clear and present danger: Wildlife poachers in Lahad Datu transporting sambar deer carcasses in the back of their truck in this photo provided by WWF Malaysia.

 

KOTA KINABALU: WWF Malaysia has called for more funding for enforcement agencies such as the Sabah Wildlife Department to boost conservation efforts.

This is especially in view of the fact that overhunting and illegal wildlife trade remained a serious threat to conservation efforts.

WWF Malaysia executive director and chief executive Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the department should be strengthened by hiring more staff to carry out enforcement activities such as patrols and roadblocks.

The increasing number of arrests, successful prosecutions and heavy penalties imposed by courts would act as a strong deterrent to poachers and therefore reduce wildlife crimes, Dr Dionysius said.

To sustain this pressure on poachers and increase the enforcement efforts, he said it was crucial that adequate resources be made available to the enforcement agencies.

Dr Dionysius said global wildlife population had declined by 52% over the past 40 years.

He said Sabah was a state within the biodiversity-rich island of Borneo with numerous species of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects that had become the target of poachers.

“These animals have crucial roles in forest ecology and forest regeneration and are indicators of the environmental health of Sabah,” Dr Dionysius added.

Over the past month, the department had successfully prosecuted three people found to be in illegal possession of various wildlife.

On Nov 19, Sabahan Fedly Jinpin was fined RM12,000 by the Tawau magistrate’s court for possessing three dead red leaf monkeys, a Malay civet and 37.5kg of bearded pig meat that were hunted illegally.

Jinpin was caught at a routine roadblock check by the Sabah Wildlife Department’s enforcement unit in Tawau on July 11.

The second case involved Philippine national Gabson Pindatun, who was fined RM15,000 by the same court on Nov 20 for possession of 72.4kg of hawksbill and green turtle meat and shells.

Gabson was caught with the turtle meat inside four gunny sacks in his boat by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in Pulau Siamil on Aug 9.

He could not pay the fine and was jailed 18 months in default.

Both Gabson and Jinpin pleaded guilty to charges.

In the third case, Johorean Carlvin Cher Jia Wei was fined RM10,000 on Nov 26 by the Beaufort magistrate’s court after he admitted to illegally possessing 10 pangolins.

He was caught having the pangolins in his car during a police roadblock on Oct 30.

 

Russian Internet Trades in Endangered Animal Parts   Leave a comment

From:  Encyclopedia Britannica ADVOCACY for ANIMALS

November 14, 2014

by Anna Filippova, campaigner with the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Russia office

Recently IFAW was invited to make a report at a meeting with Sergey Efimovich Donskoy, the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, to discuss online trade in CITES specimens.

Despite high-profile release of Amur tigers, the endangered animal skin and hide trade continues, like these confiscated tiger and leopard skins displayed at the Institute of Customs Authority in Vladivostok, Far East Russia--© IFAW/R. Kless

Despite high-profile release of Amur tigers, the endangered animal skin and hide trade continues, like these confiscated tiger and leopard skins displayed at the Institute of Customs Authority in Vladivostok, Far East Russia–© IFAW/R. Kless

I have participated many times in various meetings at the Ministry, but have never been to such a small scale meeting with only 15 participants. I had to make a presentation for the minister.

To be honest, I was very nervous and stayed up late the previous night preparing, even though the presentation was supposed to be only 10 minutes.

This limited time made the preparation more difficult than preparation for a full lecture, as I had to summarize most important points without leaving anything relevant out.

IFAW for many years have been monitoring the Internet globally, right now we are preparing an international report on online trade in CITES specimens.

Related: Largest-ever Amur tiger release in Russia hopes to signal species return

As for the Russian data: we continuously monitored the Russian Internet segment and in the spring of this year we prepared an integrated report with data collected throughout several years.

These are the results I presented at the meeting, having made a decision to dwell on the species native to Russia: results of the monitoring are horrifying.

Regardless of the Amur tiger being the iconic species which has a special attention of the Russian President, a tiger hide can be bought or ordered to be custom made online with a delivery to any location.

The same is true concerning the polar bear: if anyone wants to buy a rug made of a Russian polar bear hide, it can be delivered to you as well.

Imported hides of this animal can be purchased legally: Canada permits aboriginal hunts, and Canadian hides are sold in Russia.

However, Russian polar bear is Red-listed and hunting the animal was banned since 1957.

Nevertheless, under the current conditions it is possible to pass a Russian hide for a Canadian, having drawn up documents for an imported one, thus legalizing polar bear derivatives in poached Russia.

The circumstances around saiga are no less tragic.

According to expert assessments no more than 5000-7000 saiga antelopes still live in Russian, while poachers continue to mercilessly destroy them. Online monitoring confirms that the demand for saiga horn is high, as is the number of offers.

There was a representative of the Department for oversight and supervision of the mass communications of the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications present at the meeting, which fostered discussion of the issue of detecting and curbing illegal online transactions.

Also we discussed what ordinary citizens could do, when they see such ads. In my opinion a simple framework is necessary under which a citizen could send information about the violation. It is no less important that the police and the prosecutor’s office are interested in investigating such case, and once investigated the cases could be successfully prosecuted in court, which, in my opinion, is essentially not happening right now.

The proposals we made were greeted with interest and approval. After this meeting I have a hope that the uncontrolled illegal animal trade in the Internet will be severely limited or stopped altogether.

P.S. In the meeting room there was a grandfather clock with chimes, which I liked very much. The clock emanated peace and calm, it also made pleasant and soothing sounds as if a large, peaceful and strong animal was purring.

In the end of the meeting the Minister shook hands with each person present and told me that it was interesting to listen to the report.

To tell you the truth, I was very glad, even though his words could have been just the matter of politeness.

English: Amur Tiger at Highland Wildlife Park ...

English: Amur Tiger at Highland Wildlife Park No strangers to snow: the Amur Tigers are from Russia. There are only about 450 left in the wild, and actually more than that in captivity. Highland Wildlife Park has recently acquired two, a breeding pair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the proposals suggested by IFAW:

  • To pass a law on trade in specimens regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), harmonizing the Russian legislation with the Convention;
  • To ensure rigorous compliance with the existing law, enhance enforcement of Article 258.1 amended in June 2013;
  • To implement licensing of keeping animals in captivity, review list of animals subject to captivity and also enforce regulation for keeping animals in captivity;
  • To obligate websites to follow a binding policy banning trade in rare and endangered species without documentation proving origin of specimens;
  • To obligate sellers to accompany sales announcement with open access to all accompanying documentation proving legality of a specimen’s provenance;
  • To institute obligatory pop-up windows warning all users about possible violation of the law when users search for CITES specimens;
  • To implement constant public and state (for instance, with the help of experts of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation) monitoring of websites for sales of CITES specimens and derivatives and to regularly publish monitoring reports;
  • To consolidate activities of relevant agencies (Federal Customs Service, the border control, Ministry of Natural Resources, Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) to prevent trade in CITES specimens. IFAW is ready to provide necessary training.

IFAW works globally to reduce demand for wildlife products. Visit our campaign page for more information.

 

Tanzanian ivory not being sold to Chinese diplomats, allegations of buying sprees fabricated: officials   2 comments

From: abc.net.au

Updated Sat at 4:31amSat 8 Nov 2014, 4:31am

Tanzanian officials have dismissed claims Chinese diplomatic and military staff have purchased illegal white ivory while on official visits to East Africa made by an environmental activist group.

The country’s foreign minister said the report by the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) was a “fabrication” designed to upset growing ties between Tanzania and China.

“We should ask ourselves as to why these allegations are surfacing a few days before (Tanzanian) president Jakaya Kikwete‘s visit to China,” foreign minister Bernard Membe told parliament.

“These are mere fabrications.

“It is obvious that perpetrators of these allegations are people who do not wish to see our country attain development.

“The false reports were made out of jealousy seeing that Tanzania enjoys cordial relations with China.”

The minister asserted that the two countries have been sharing intelligence reports which have enabled numerous interceptions of ivory destined for China from Tanzania.

“China is doing a lot to help us solve this wildlife-threatening crime,” Tanzania’s tourism minister Lazaro Nyalandu said.

“It is easy to see how cooked-up the report is, because saying that the Chinese president‘s plane was used to carry tusks is illogical.

“Such crafts are usually heavily guarded and surrounded by hundreds of people, leaving no room for any foul play.”

Embassy staff ivory ‘major buyers’ since 2006

According to the EIA, when Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Tanzania in March 2013 members of his government and business delegation bought so much ivory that local prices doubled.

The group quoted ivory traders as saying the buyers took advantage of a lack of security checks for diplomatic visitors to smuggle their purchases back to China on Xi’s plane.

The report said similar sales were made on a previous trip by China’s former president Hu Jintao and Chinese embassy staff have been “major buyers” since at least 2006.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also described the report as “groundless”.

Tens of thousands of elephants are estimated to be slaughtered in Africa each year to feed rising Asian demand for ivory products.

Reports said the demand comes mostly from China – the continent’s biggest trading partner.

Almost all ivory sales were banned in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to which both China and Tanzania are signatories.

Reuters

 

Cambodia Feeds Booming Global Monkey Trade   4 comments

From: http://www.cambodiadaily.com/

BY AND | NOVEMBER 4, 2014

CHOEUNG PREY DISTRICT, Kompong Cham province – Down a dirt track lined with banana trees and dotted with small wooden homes, an expansive white wall hides an unusual group of residents—thousands upon thousands of monkeys.

A golden plaque near the entrance identifies the compound as the Tian Hu Cambodia Animal Breeding Research Center. The long-tailed macaques inside, if all goes according to plan, will one day be the subjects of scientific testing.

Four monkeys sit in a cage at a macaque farm in Kompong Chhnang province in a photograph taken in 2012 by investigators from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. (BUAV)

The primates are destined for foreign laboratories—largely in the U.S.—where they will be experimented on as part of preclinical and clinical studies for drug development programs, according to Tokyo-based Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories (SNBL), which owns the monkey farm.

The company says on its website that it is “committed to freeing patients from suffering by supporting drug development.”

But advances in human medicines have long come at a cost for primates. And the farmed macaques in Cambodia are no exception.

Just last year, U.S. animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now lodged an official complaint after five monkeys raised in Cambodia allegedly died en route to an SNBL facility in the U.S., while 20 more had to be euthanized upon arrival due to their poor condition.

However, the monkey trade here remains big business.

According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, more than 91,000 long-tailed macaques were exported from Cambodia from 2004 to 2012.

CITES lists the long-tailed macaque as the most heavily traded live mammal worldwide, and has categorized the industry in Cambodia as being of “Possible Concern.”

Animal rights groups say the past decade has seen an explosion in the use of macaques for scientific research. SNBL alone forecasts revenues of more than $160 million this year, according to Reuters.

At the firm’s Kompong Cham farm last month, security guard Phoum Veng, who has worked there for three years, said there are about 10,000 monkeys housed across the roughly 10-hectare site.

Although other workers gave varying estimates, figures from the International Primate Protection League suggest there are indeed large numbers of macaques being held at the farm. The group says 2,340 monkeys were imported to the U.S. from Cambodia last year, with 1,820 of these coming from the Tian Hu site.

Reporters were refused entry to the facility—one of five in Cambodia registered with the Agriculture Ministry—and several subsequent requests to interview company directors were turned down.

Tong Sat, who has worked at Tian Hu for four years, first as an electrician and then as a landscaper, described more than 40 large indoor enclosures containing rows of monkeys in single cages. Those used for breeding are the exception, placed in groups of nine females together with an adult male.

“They are kept in the cages forever, but after [workers] check their health, they change them to another cage,” Mr. Sat said.

New adolescents are regularly trucked in, according to workers, who believed they were being brought from another farm in Kompong Thom province and were not caught in the wild.

But despite past reassurances from government officials, allegations persist that an illicit monkey trade is flourishing in Cambodia as the international trade booms.

Sarah Kite, a director at the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said in an email that investigators from the animal rights group have traveled to Cambodia and Laos several times to probe a “largely unregulated trade in long-tailed macaques that has resulted in the apparent indiscriminate and intensive trapping of wild monkeys to establish the numerous breeding and supply farms that have been set up.”

Ms. Kite said the union believes monkeys are being trapped in Koh Kong and Siem Reap provinces to be sold to farms, not only in Cambodia, but also overseas.

“Without permits and to avoid detection by the authorities, the animals were reportedly brought into the farms during the night hidden under packs of ice in vehicles which have been adapted to hold cages,” she wrote of a British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection investigation carried out in 2012.

Shirley McGreal, the executive director of the International Primate Protection League, said her organization held suspicions that monkeys caught in the wild are being exported on false captive-born documents either directly out of Cambodia or via China, which exports huge numbers of macaques.

“We are concerned that this trade could wipe out Cambodia’s monkeys within a few years,” she said via email.

Though the number of macaques living in the wild in Cambodia is not known, conservation groups say it is diminishing.

At a meeting in Mexico in May, CITES agreed that Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam were required to justify the scientific basis they had used to determine that the numbers of monkeys being exported was not detrimental to the survival of the species.

Cheng Kimsun, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Forestry Administration, said in August that all of the monkey farms in the country were operating in accordance with animal welfare laws.

“Everything is done in compliance with the law,” he told reporters at the time.

There are also questions about whether Cambodians are benefiting from the trade. Workers at Tian Hu say they are pleased to have found jobs near their homes, earning between $100 and $140 a month for low-skilled work.

But Ms. McGreal of IPPL says the firms importing the monkeys are the real winners, especially in the U.S., where they can sell each animal for $2,000 or more.

“[Cambodia is] being ripped off, in my view,” she said. “Certainly its wildlife loses every which way one looks at this trade.”

robertson@cambodiadaily.com, sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com

English: A Crab-eating Macaque (Macaca fascicu...

English: A Crab-eating Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) Monkey eating peanuts. Pictured in Bangalore, India Français : Un Macaque crabier (Macaca fascicularis) mangeant des cacahuètes, Bangalore, Inde. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rhino horn declining in demand   1 comment

 

 

A story published by The Guardian states that rhino horn is in less demand. This news comes at a time when rhinos have reached the ‘tipping point’ – when rhino numbers are declining from poaching faster than rhino are reproducing.

“A poll conducted by Nielsen for the Humane Society International (HSI) and the Vietnam Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) found that Rhino horn demand in Vietnam dropped by more than a third in one year.”

 

Efforts to curb trade in rhino horn appear to be gaining traction

A year long public information campaign to try to deter people from buying and consuming rhino horn was conducted in Vietnam, a key market for the trade of rhino horn.

The public information campaign, done through business, university, school and women’s groups in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, focused on dispelling the myth that rhino horn has medicinal value.

Following the campaign, only 2.6% of people in Vietnam now continue to buy and use rhino horn, a decrease of 38%, the report stated.

And there has been a 25% decrease in the number of people who think rhino horn, which is made of the same material as fingernails and hair, has medicinal value. However, 38% of Vietnamese still think it can treat diseases such as cancer and rheumatism.

 

One Person Can Make a Difference

One woman, an Australian named Lynn Johnson, raised money to launch a series of advertisements in Vietnam that warn people rhino horn is harmful to them and is a bad choice as a status symbol.

Advertisements have appeared on buses and billboards, and an HSI book called I’m a Little Rhino has been distributed in schools.

Ms. Johnson is a business woman with no prior experience in conservation efforts. To that I say, well done. 

“The messaging has gone up significantly in Vietnam over the past year which is fantastic,” Ms. Johnson said. “Our campaign targets the users directly but overall the amount of information aimed at Vietnamese has increased markedly.”

Although there are a lot of questions still to be answered in how this data was obtained – for instance, how many people did they poll to come up with these statistics?; has the supply side of the poaching chain slowed down yet? – it’s a hopeful sign that in a  short period of time, through education, a focused campaign in the right areas, and the help of individuals like you and me, public perception can be changed.

Behavior then usually follows.

Yes, it appears things are finally heading in the right direction, but this doesn’t mean we can not afford to stop anti-poaching efforts. If anything, these findings only confirm that our efforts are working and that maybe there is a chance to halt demand for rhino horn and save the African Rhino after all.

Read more: http://africainside.org/2014/07/21/beverly-derek-joubert-african-rhinos/

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