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» 16.10.2009 - SA teams up with neighbours for a clean environment
» 18.09.2009 - SA’s first electric car on display
» 14.11.2008 - SA wildlife paradise "endangered"
» 06.11.2008 - Animal right activists criticise ivory sale in SA
» 20.08.2008 - Namibia sanctions ivory trade
» 24.03.2004 - Enhanced conservation efforts in flooding Zambezi
» 19.03.2004 - Southern Africa's ivory sales put on ice
» 02.07.2003 - New tourism gateway for Namibian park

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Namibia | South Africa
Environment - Nature | Travel - Leisure

Limited rhino hunt allowed in SA, Namibia

afrol News, 4 October - Hundred years of conservation efforts have lifted the southern black rhino population from about hundred to 11,000 animals. These efforts are now to pay back and the international body on trade of endangered species, CITES, today lifted the total hunting ban on the black rhino. Namibia and South Africa are given permission to hunt up to five animals each at a yearly basis, but environmentalists remain sceptical.

Members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), united in Bangkok, Thailand, today approved of a very limited hunting of the formerly threatened species. The annual CITES meeting gathers government representatives, environmentalists and scientists from all over the world to agree on an updated list of threatened species and which animals and plants should not be traded.

After years of lobbying, Namibian and South African authorities this year finally achieved their goal of lifting the total hunting and trading ban on the southern black rhino. The rhino sub-species is not longer seriously threatened in the two countries, the Southern African delegates convinced their partners.

Well-paying trophy hunters now will be allowed to hunt five rhinos annually in Namibia and five in South Africa. South Africa had originally asked the CITES delegated to approve an annual quota of then animals, but this was cut to five after protests from conservationists.

Despite the tremendous success in re-establishing a sound black rhino population in South Africa and Namibia, several environmental groups held that lifting the total ban would lead to increased poaching in countries where rhino populations are yet to recover.

It would now become far easier to cover up the illegal trade of rhino horns from poached animals, claiming they stemmed from legally hunted animals, the argument goes. The same argumentation has effectively stopped the lifting of the international ban on ivory trade as African elephants remain critically endangered in most countries outside Southern Africa.

The black rhino remains critically endangered in most countries outside the Southern African region. In East Africa, poaching still is not under control. The northern black rhino sub-species, meanwhile, is now reduced to only 32 animals; ten of which live in captivity. Eight northern rhinos - living on the Congolese-Sudanese border - earlier this year were killed by poachers, making the sub-species' soon extinction probable.

South African wildlife authorities however managed to convince CITES delegates that a limited black rhino hunt was only positive for the further increase of the beast's population. According to the authorities, hunting would only be allowed for old non-reproductive males, which are using valuable grazing resources that could otherwise have supported calves and reproductive animals.

The governments of Namibia and South Africa further have pledged to spend the substantial revenues from the upcoming trophy hunting to improve their conservation efforts. Earlier investments from environmental groups to save the species would therefore only be recycled, they told the CITES meeting. Hunters are expected to be willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to hunt one black rhino.

Rhinos have been strictly protected by CITES since 1977, as large-scale poaching throughout Africa totally counteracted the immense conservation efforts. The CITES Secretariat this year supported the Namibian and South African petition, but it also reminded that the rhino still is at threat in Africa at large. Only in neighbouring Zimbabwe, the southern black rhino population has been decimated during the last years of political unrest.

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