'You don’t win a war without resources' - New proposal to save rhinos

2015-10-02 09:36
Black rhino and calf. (WWF)

Black rhino and calf. (WWF)

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Cape Town – A new plan, that proposes a non-compulsory tourist donation to save rhinos from extinction, is under discussion.

“I am sick to death of pro and anti-trade people fighting among each other at the expense of rhinos dying,” Braam Malherbe, the biodiversity director at non-profit organisation Accountability Now told News24.

“For a decade, we have bantered back and forth. Whilst we are fighting each other, the criminal syndicates are winning. The plan is about getting money in and stopping the fighting.”

But Pelham Jones, chair of the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA), said he found it “intriguing” that they were never consulted on the plan, given that they owned some 27% of the national herd.

- See News24's Showcase feature on rhino poaching: Beyond the Bullet

The plan emerged following a mediated discussion between Malherbe, economist Dawie Roodt and conservationists Colin Bell and Ian Michler.

Malherbe said it was unrealistic to expect changes to the legislation governing rhino horn trade any time soon and that action was needed in the interim.

The ‘integrated rhino poaching strategy’ proposed, among other things, a non-compulsory tourist donation towards a wildlife fund, focused at first on rhino initiatives.

The money could be used to boost rhino-related security, technology, scientific and community initiatives.

Malherbe said the fund would be administered by credible affected and interested parties.

Rhino ‘war’

“You don’t win a war without resources.”

Jones said he attended the media briefing on the plan after “stumbling across” an announcement.

While he welcomed positive contributions to conservation, he felt the plan did not offer immediate solutions and advocated a militaristic approach.

“The pro-trade scenario was not presented by anybody there. We are saying that none of us ever bought rhino years ago with the intention to trade in rhino.”

He believed the demand for rhino was not going to go away.

“The militaristic approach is never going to win this war against these poachers because of the desperation of dollar-a-day communities. Even shoot to kill would not detract them one millimetre.”

Jones said they were awaiting judgment on a court bid to have the national moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn overturned, and were “quietly confident”.

Malherbe said their plan was merely a “skeleton”.

He invited private rhino owners to flesh out the plan and believed they were all on the same side.

Read more on:    cape town  |  poaching  |  conservation  |  animals

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