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CITES backs Kenya's proposal on rhino protection

Tuesday March 23 2010


It was a second victory for Kenya in a space of two days after the UN conservation meeting in Qatar passed the proposal on better protection measures for rhinos.

The passage of Kenya’s proposal now obliges countries where rhino products are used to report to CITES secretariat.

It follows the rejection on Monday of proposals by Tanzania and Zambia for one-off sales of elephant ivory which Kenya had long opposed.

Kenya had submitted a proposal seeking to strengthen the resolution and entrench initiatives to dismantle criminal networks involved in rhino poaching.

At the meeting on Tuesday, delegates attending the CITES conference agreed to focus on increasing law enforcement, training of guards, better border surveillance, enhanced rhino monitoring and awareness campaigns in consumer countries.

Commenting afterwards, Forestry and Wildlife Minister Dr Noah Wekesa who is leading the Kenyan delegation said, “This is a milestone in global rhino conservation. It renews commitment and collaboration by all governments to end this illegal trade in rhino parts.”


In the opening remarks when moving the motion, Kenya highlighted how poaching affected its rhino population in 2009.

Kenya lost 20 rhinos -14 black rhinos representing 2.2 per cent of the population of 600 - and six white rhinos out of a population of 300 to poaching.

This was the first time such high level of poaching was recorded in the 25 year history of Kenya’s rhino conservation programme.
High poaching levels are of great concern to conservation efforts as they significantly reduce the overall growth rate for rhinos.  Similar negative effects were also reported by most countries with rhino populations.

The proposal received support from 36 countries and animal welfare groups.

The largest support came from the EU with a membership of 27 expressing broad support for Kenya’s proposal particularly on the increased emphasis on consumer States to take measures to end the illegal use and consumption of rhinoceros parts and derivatives.

Botswana, Indonesia, Israel, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Care for the Wild International and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network also voted for the proposal.

Dr Wekesa said he was looking forward to a greater collaboration with all countries in ending demand for rhino parts and derivatives and increasing rhino populations in the wild.

However, Kenya lost on its suggestion to destroy rhino horns stored in strong rooms which will now be dealt with at a domestic levels. 

Kenya Wildlife Service director Julius Kipng’etich, cautioned that despite the support by rhino range states, there was no room for complacency.

Currently the world’s black rhino population is estimated at 4,200; white rhinos 17,000.

Demand for the rhino horns has been on the rise in Asia precipitating poaching in Africa.
Rhino horns are used in traditional medicine by some Asian communities.

The Asian countries who have been adversely mentioned in the illegal trade agreed to report at every Conference of Parties on their efforts to end illegal trade in rhino parts within their countries.