Ban will increase poaching: hunters

2011-09-01 13:36

A proposed moratorium on rhino hunting could increase poaching, the Professional Hunters’ Association of SA (Phasa) said today.

“A moratorium could have the effect of increasing rhino poaching as it would make the illicit trade in rhino horns even more profitable for poachers,” Phasa chief executive Adri Kitshoff said.

A moratorium is a delay or suspension of an activity or law. Animal rights activists and conservation authorities often request moratoriums to protect endangered or threatened animal species.

Kitshoff said the moratorium would adversely affect private rhino owners, and the government needed to focus attention on national parks.

“Rhinos which are kept in national parks are most threatened by poaching. A moratorium on rhino hunting would not serve to protect these rhinos as it is, in any event, illegal to hunt rhinos in national parks.”

Training more people to prosecute “wildlife transgressions” could prevent further poaching.
On Monday Environment Minister Edna Molewa said the government was considering the moratorium.

“Currently, the provincial conservation authorities issue permits for the sport hunting of rhino, and an unfortunate challenge we are facing, in terms of the permitting of rhino hunting, is the abuse of the system by unscrupulous individuals.

“Illegal hunting and the abuse of the permit system may be the main threats that could impact on the survival of rhino in the wild in the near future.”

She said discussions on the moratorium would take place with provincial MECs in October.

There would also have to be consultation with game farmers and other interested parties; an examination of the number of hunting permits, both pending and in the system; and an investigation into the effect of such a moratorium on hunting tourism.

“It is important to look at rhino hunting that is legal, from a perspective our country uses to attract hunting tourists,” she said.

There are about 18 800 white rhino and 2 200 black rhino in South Africa.

Rhino poaching in the country and in other parts of the continent surged over the past three years, driven by an increasing demand for the horn from south-east Asian countries, where the powdered horn was used in traditional medicines.

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