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CoP17 rejects proposal to trade in rhino horns

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 4 — The 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP 17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on Monday rejected Swaziland's proposal to trade in white rhino horns.

The proposal was rejected by an overwhelming 100 votes against with 26 votes in support.

Swaziland was seeking to alter the existing annotation on the Appendix II listing of its white rhino population so as to permit a limited and regulated trade in white rhino horns.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) welcomed the decision by the CoP17.

"At a time when rhinoceros are more under threat than ever from poachers due to rapidly increasing black market prices in their horn, this decision by Parties to deny Swaziland's request to trade in white rhino horn is to be applauded," said Alie Kelvin, IFAW Director against Wildlife Trade.

Rhino poaching has increased dramatically in recent years, notably in South Africa. In 2007, 13 rhinos were recorded poached in South Africa. By 2011, 448 rhinos were poached and in 2014 poaching killed 1,215 rhinos in South Africa, a 9,000 percent increase in less than 10 years, according to IFAW.

"The notion that demand for rhino horn can be furnished through legal sales is nonsense, and unsubstantiated. On the contrary legal trade will simply increase demand, and thus the pressure on wild rhino populations. Swaziland's proposal flew in the face of global efforts to protect remaining rhino populations, and IFAW is delighted that Parties to CITES have denied their request," Kelvin said.

By 1977, all African rhinoceros species were listed on CITES Appendix I, giving them the highest level of protection from international commercial trade either as live animals or as rhino products. In 2004, Swaziland's southern white rhinos were transferred to Appendix II but only for live export and for limited export of hunting trophies, according to specified annual quotas.

Rhinos are poached for their horn, demand for which is primarily to supply medicinal and luxury goods markets in Asia. Current poaching rates have effectively stalled growth in rhino population numbers at the continental level, while illegal trade in rhino is at its highest since the early 1990s. In 2014 an estimate 2,000 horns found their way into illegal trade. (PNA/Xinhua)

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