Rhino poaching: public hearings
Water and Sanitation
26 January 2012
Chairperson: Mr J. De Lange (ANC
The meeting heard fourteen submissions on the issue of rhino poaching. The Chairperson said the meeting was only the start of the debate on this issue and answers were not expected from one session. The Department of Environmental Affairs provided a brief history of past successes saying that the country had experienced low numbers of rhinos in the country in the past and had managed to conserve 80% by 2007. However since 2008, poaching had soared as organised crime had become involved. The Department said rhino poaching was a complex issue and a Wildlife Crime Unit had been created and one would really need to make this unit permanent. The Department had been looking at the relevant policy and legislation to curb rhino poaching but there were gaps. It was working with the National Prosecuting Authority to tighten this. Since 2009, a moratorium had been put on the horn trade in
Various entities presented their proposed solutions to the problems of poaching and to reducing the market demand for rhino horn. The majority of the submissions favored a pro-trade approach which they believed would bring down the incidence of poaching. However, others wanted no trade at all. Many requested that optional fines should be done away with and mandatory prison sentences implemented.
Members showed particular interest in the working of the two provinces of Northwest and
Chairperson’s opening remarks.
Mr De Lange welcomed the public in the full chamber and remarked that if only human problems received as much attention as animal ones. The Department of Environmental Affairs would inform the chamber of the information they had on rhino poaching. The public would then have a chance to make their submissions. He urged the members and the public not to expect answers and that he hoped the day would mark the start of a good debate. He noted the apologies of the Head of SAN Parks as he was busy with the operations and emergency at the
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) briefing on Rhino poaching
Mr Fundisile Mketeni, Deputy Director General: Environment Affairs, said that conservation success as a country sometimes brought problems. In 1960s, people knew that rhinos were on the brink of extinction. By the end of 2007
Mr De Lange asked if he had any figures for the prosecutions and results.
Mr Mketeni that most people were arrested at OR Tambo Airport but he would ask his team to bring the figures. Four years ago, when the DEA started looking into the issue, he suspected that the industry might be involved. Five years down the line, it was becoming clear that this was the case. They could get officials to issue permits.
Mr De Lange asked for statistics on the number of licences issued. He asked again for the statistics of prosecutions, how many permits were issued and where they were issued and how many animals were allowed for legal hunting.
Mr Mketeni said rhino poaching was a complex issue and the Department had created a unit to deal with it and would really want to make it permanent. DEA had been looking at the relevant legislation and policy to curb poaching but there were gaps. Since 2009, a moratorium was put on the horn trade in SA.
Mr De Lange asked what law and regulations were used for poaching. He wanted to see a compilation of the laws and regulations relating to rhinos just as the Department had done for elephants.
Mr Mketeni said that the Department had the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations as well as Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS). The Department had also developed a strategy and it was collaborating and cooperating with relevant bodies at all levels. NatJoints’ Operation Rhino remained a standing agenda item of the National Joints Committee (Nat Joints Com) which comprises of senior members of South African Police Service (SAPS), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
At the international level,
Although rhino poaching was part of NatJoints and could be reported to police, the need existed for a standard procedure between the DEA and police, where the DEA would lead all investigations. There were concerns about the DEA issuing permits to some of the consumer countries. DEA had taken the approach that the hunting of rhino by foreign clients, whose country of usual residence did not have adequate legislation to ensure that imported personal sport hunted trophies would remain in possession of the hunter, should be stopped as soon as possible.
DEA would need to collaborate with the Department of Public Works to secure a facility at OR Tambo International Airport and a facility at a still to be identified seaport, where wildlife shipments could be inspected. It would also need to limit the ports of entry and exit where wildlife and wildlife products could be imported to and exported from to strengthen control, facilitate enforcement and compliance, and to improve detection of illegal wildlife shipments. The capacity within the DEA would need to be increased to provide for the deployment of at least two officials to be stationed at each of the designated ports of entry and exit
Mr De Lange asked if it was the case that if people wanted to take rhino horns out, they could.
Mr Mketeni replied that everything was managed by Home Affairs as they did all the checking.
In reply to Mr De Lange asking what the current procedure was, Mr Mketeni said they were supposed to have a permit. So when they went to airport, they were supposed to declare them. Customs officials would need to check but they have had cases where people have said to the officials that they would sue them if they touched anything.
Mr De Lange said he shuddered to think this was happening in SA ports – that people said they would sue officials if they opened the boxes. There needed to be radical interventions to deal with the issues.
Mr Mketeni proposed the way forward, saying that the Department needed to look at certain measures: deploying officials at ports of entry though the resources were a constraint; talking to the media though they should not just report out of context; involving Public Works department to fix fences on the borders; increasing field capacity in the Kruger National Park to 150.
Mr De Lange reminded the Department that they needed to provide the Committee with information on prosecutions, legal framework, permits given, and how many animals had been killed. He asked who kept the stockpiles. The Committee also needed to see the
Mr Mketeni replied that the response to the information requested, required information from provinces and industry.
In reply to Mr De Lange asking why the Department did not have such information to hand, Mr Mketeni said that a lot cooperation from a lot of stakeholders was needed and that the concurrent nature of the power between national and province did not force the provinces to comply. He added that he knew about the government stockpiles but not others.
Mr De Lange asked why such things could not be regulated and Mr Mketeni indicated that one of his staff members would explain.
Ms Thea Caroll, DEA Director: Regulatory and Monitoring Services, explained that the information on prosecutions was kept by the National Prosecuting Authority and they would request for it to be made available to the Department. The DEA had been working closely with the South Gauteng Courts and in the last three years, of the twelve cases dealt with, seven had been finalised and five were pending. The sentences ranged from twelve years in prison or a R1 million fine, or a R100 000 fine or ten years in prison, and R40 000 or two years in prison. The difference depended on what laws had been used to prosecute people.
Mr De Lange advised that the DEA needed to keep this information and be the custodian of the information so that it knew what was happening at all times. The picture that was coming across was the information was fragmented as different departments held different parts of it. The National Department had the responsibility to hold the information and it needed to have a proper database to keep all the information that court decisions were based on.
Ms Sonja Meintjies, Deputy Director: Biodiversity Enforcement and Compliance, presented the information on the legal framework. Rhino protection was regulated through the National Environmental Management and Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) which lists the white rhino as protected and the black rhino as endangered. The Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) regulations applied to both. There was a specific provision related to the possession of horn where a person would need a permit. The horn must be marked and micro-chipped and must be registered on a database. The challenge would be if owners applied and that information leaked out, then there would be a risk to them in possessing the horn.
Mr De Lange interrupted the presentation saying that he did not want to hear this. The DEA was the government who was supposed to regulate and they did not need to worry about what the owners were worried about. He reminded the DEA that the country was busy seeing a species dying and it was its job to save it. The Government had to own up to this issue even if it had to go to court to force the people then it would have to do it. If it needed to take away the licences to stop them, it should do so. The species could not be allowed to die under the watch of government, especially after it had done so much work to get to where it was at present.
Mr De Lange urged the DEA strongly that the government needed to find everyone who was creating possibilities and getting around the loopholes.
Ms Meintjies clarified that the majority of the stakeholders were willing to comply.
Mr De Lange replied that it was the minority that needed to be dealt with not the majority. He uttered strongly that the law was there and the DEA needed to implement it properly otherwise the Committee would get onto its case.
Ms Meintjies continued that in terms of the protection of the species regulated, the Department was in the process of drafting amendments and the Department was liaising with the NPA. A dedicated session would be held with them where they highlight the constraints they had experienced in the last three to four years with implementation. The NPA would advise the Department on how to address the specific gaps.
Mr De Lange suggested that a workshop should be held with Parliament, the Committee, plus all the role players such as the NPA, Customs, Finance, Public Works, and the police, to look at the regulations, the law and the loopholes.
Ms Meintjies continued her presentation saying that a prohibition had also been put in place in Section 57(2) of the NEMBA Act on any activity that might negatively impact on the survival of the species. The Minister had put a national moratorium on the trade of rhino horn within the country. Therefore, no one would be allowed to buy horn and sell it. If a person owned a rhino, they could dehorn and keep the horn, but they would not be allowed to donate it or sell it. There were also norms and standards for the marking of the rhino horn and the hunting of the white rhino for trophy hunting purposes.
Mr De Lange asked if the DEA kept records if the horn had been cut off and kept by the owner and if the DEA had records of whom the owners were in the provinces.
Ms Meintjies replied yes, that the Department was busy with compiling a report with all the consolidated information and the National Department had specifically requested that the provinces provided such information. A permit was needed for dehorning and then a permit would also be needed to possess the horn afterwards. The DEA had proposed amendments to the norms and standards to strengthen certain provisions relating to marking as well as hunting. The marking requirement according to the norms and standards was that the horn needed to be micro-chipped and that measurements needed to be taken as well as photographs and then have those recorded in the register. The management of the hunting of the white rhino needed to be controlled through the TOPS permit and there must be referral to the DEA to be entered into a register to ensure that the hunter would not hunt more than twice in one year in the country. Currently, the norms and standards stipulate that the hunt needed to be supervised which was something that was proposed in the amendments, and then it was not allowed to be exported in personal baggage. The trophy (horn) needed to go from the farm where it was hunted to a taxidermy, or a similar facility like a dip and ship facility before it could be exported. It needed to have been micro-chipped on the farm already.
The proposed amendments the DEA referred to marking the specified horn by the database to be kept. TRAFFIC had developed a very comprehensive database which they have made available to the government for use. The dehorned horns also needed to be marked. In terms of hunting, the DEA clarified that no one could hunt on a game farm permit. Individual separate permits were required for each hunt. The year would also needed to be clarified to mean within a period of twelve months and not within a period of a calendar year. The DEA was also proposing that the rhino hunt needed to be supervised by an official or an environmental management personnel. There was also clarification in the amendments on the transport route of the horn and that the taxidermist needed to report on all the horns received and then a register needed to be kept of all the ones received with the microchip numbers and all the other details. Suggestions were made at the public participation process that an officer needed to sign off the hunt if it was successful. In fact a lot of very useful suggestions were made in order to ensure a very good trail of what happened to the horn, if it was kept, once it left the farm. There should be collection of DNA samples as there was a process of analyzing all the DNA to have a DNA profile of each rhino and of all the rhinos that were hunted. The public participation feedback also suggested keeping a DNA sample of the live rhino in addition to its horn. The proposed amendments had been analysed and published through the intergovernmental cooperation process and would be finalised soon.
Another piece of legislation used was the CITES regulation which designated certain authorities focusing on export, import and re-export. Permits for export would be needed here and they would need to be endorsed at ports of exit. The black rhino is listed in Appendix 1 with the most stringent measures where one would not be allowed to trade commercially in any of the specimens. But SA had a CITES approved quota to hunt five adult bulls each year hence a very strict process where a farmer could apply, and must adhere to certain criteria before a permit could be issued. No problems have been experienced in this area and two to three black rhino bulls were hunted during the year. The white rhino is listed in Appendix 2 for the exclusive purpose of allowing international trade and to allow for hunting trophies. No commercial trade was allowed in the rhino horn in terms of the CITES provision.
Mr De Lange asked if the horns going out through the OR Tambo airport were not for trade purposes but the trophies of the hunters.
Ms Meintjies replied that this was a very important difference and the reason why the DEA had proposed to build in a requirement to verify with the country of destination that they had appropriate legislation to follow up, to do inspection and to monitor, as SA would not have the mandate in another country to do anything. Some of the countries had already responded that they would be able to do the follow ups.
Mr Mketeni added that the DEA should be able to go to a location to check if the trophy-hunted animal horn was still there, hence the requirement for countries to have the legislation to allow for monitoring.
Ms Meintjies provided information on the revenue generated through legal hunting. In 2008, 103 specimens were hunted generating revenue of approximately R46 million. Three black rhinos were hunted with a revenue of R5.7 million. In 2009, 107 white rhinos were hunted generating a revenue of R48 million. In 2010, 131 white rhinos were hunted generating revenue of R61 million and one black rhino was hunted generating R1.7 million revenue.
In terms of live rhino sales, based on figures from auctions around the country, in 2008 a white rhino went for R274 712; 2009 for R220 064; 2010 for R223 099; 2011 for R 227 674. It was lucrative business. If the live animal would be poached, the horn would be worth far more than the live animal.
In terms of legal hunting, 129 permits were issued in 2012 with the
Mr De Lange asked if the permits were per rhino meaning that there would be 129 and 181 rhinos hunted.
Ms Meintjies replied yes, though a permit issued did not exactly mean the hunt took place. To get around that, one needed to build into the norms and standards a feedback mechanism whereby the hunt would be reported back to the Department whether it took place or not.
The Department received 166 applications for permits in 2010 and all the hunts took place. In 2011, 211 applications were received. Hunting statistics look different as they were based on hunting registers. When a foreign hunter goes out on a hunt, a professional hunter accompanies that client and the hunting register needed to be completed if the hunting took place. The province then received that hunting register back. The DEA would like to get all the information together on the permit and what register related to that permit. The register needed to reflect the permit number, the microchip number, the farm and all related details.
Mr De Lange asked the DEA what it was trying to regulate through the MOUs with consumer countries.
Mr Mketeni replied that it was the use of the horn, feedback on issued permits indicating that the trophies had reached their destination, and were in possession of the hunters. Another issue is the exchange of information so that information would be relayed to
Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) asked if it was not the case that inspectors were collaborating with poachers as some were coming through the borders. She asked the DEA what was being done to prevent such an issue. At the present moment there were three departments dealing with border control: the Defence force, customs controlling goods and services, SARS. The question being asked was more about the inspection. The Defence Force police the Mozambiquean and South African border, not specifically for rhino poaching but generally. But they only assist in preventing rhino poaching. The DEA would like to train its own officials to deal with such issues. There was also talk about a Border Management Agency to look at all the issues relating to border control.
Mr G Morgan (DA) remarked that the problem was exacerbated by the policy coordination failures by government and state agencies, complicated by the concurrent competences of the Constitution. He agreed with the Chairperson that a workshop bringing together stakeholders was needed.
Mr Morgan said that he had watched Minister Molewa’s recent statement in
Mr Mketeni replied that to have a normal fence would not work as the poachers would simply jump over the fence and continue. The DEA would like to electrify the fence and to have a detection system that would trigger a response. The fence issue was related to the budgeting process as well as the DEA had approached the Public Works Minister about the fence and he replied he would look at it but only pay for his Department’s mandate.
Mr Morgan asked the Department to explain what their frustrations were. Also given that a dedicated Wildlife Crime Unit was mentioned, he asked to what extent the police and the Hawks would be able to help the Department and if such assistance was dedicated to the rhino issue or not.
Mr Mketeni replied that the Department did have a lot of frustrations about coordination. He explained that every time a rhino was killed, there was a feeling of failure. There were many loopholes in the system. The concurrent competence was not working for conservation issues as the Department proposed things but was not getting through because of the domain issue between national and provincial. The Department felt that in such an issue there would need to be a central command where National could give instructions of what was to be done at provincial level. In the Wildlife Crime cases, the officials seconded were not only doing work on rhino poaching alone. Dedicated officials were needed to work on only such issues. The Department would like to see dedicated officials dealing with wildlife crime and would like to see a permanent structure, as there may be new wildlife crime issues to deal with other than rhino poaching. Another experience of frustration working against coordination was DNA samples. For example, the Department needed the taking of DNA samples of a consignment in
Mr Morgan asked to what extent was the Intelligence Service involved, as there was a link between rhino poaching and organized crime which operated in different areas. The abalone crimes in the
Ms Caroll clarified that the SA Police Service was the lead agent when it came to investigating and handling cases relating to organised crime. The Conservation department was cooperating. The Department did work with crime intelligence but SAPS was leading. This was one of the leading frustrations of the Department.
Mr Morgan said that there would also be new poachers. He was aware that a large number of poachers were Mozambiquans though the reality was; it was the “big guys” that needed to be caught. He found it difficult that the intelligence unit knew who the big syndicates were in the country but they were not caught. Rhino poaching would not be stopped by catching the small guys. He asked the Department if they were not frustrated by the NPA and how long it took for cases such as the high-profile Groenewald case that had taken fifteen months already without being concluded. He urged the Department to interact with the Committee on such issues and be frank about them.
Mr Mketeni replied that there were new poachers but there was a lot of money involved in rhino poaching. Even if they had been convicted, they would just simply bring suitcases of money, pay and then they disappear. Therefore, the money issue was a problem in dealing with the poachers at the top level as the money made it easier for them to get off the hook. The Groenewald case was taking too long, because his case was linked to many issues the police were interested in. But the Department was not just working on those cases, but on other ones as well.
Mr Morgan asked about the shared responsibilities with the provincial government and what the implications were if any legislation were planned. He asked about the penalties, saying that there were complaints that they were not high enough, and if the Department was thinking about making amendments to them.
Mr Morgan pointed out that the figures for
Mr Morgan again urged the Department to be frank and give a breakdown of the nationalities of people who applied for permits; if the Department could give the percentage of Asian hunters. He accused the Department of skirting around the issue by stating the need to prosecute the consumer countries. He threatened to give the answers to Parliament about the
Mr Mketeni answered that the DEA did provide the statistics diplomatically but it could make the breakdown available to the Committee. The DEA felt like saying, no issuing of permits to Vietnamese but it could have implications hence it would need to look at the legislation.
Mr Morgan referred to a study that was not done due to the DEA not being able to find an appropriate person to award the tender to. He asked if the study was still on the agenda.
Mr Mketeni said that the study was still in the plans and someone would be appointed to look at the issues.
Mr Morgan thanked the DEA for all its efforts. It was difficult but the DEA needed to know it was not alone.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) remarked that it was better to deal with the Mozambiquans sooner rather than later. She asked why the black rhino was more expensive.
The DEA explained that the black rhino was more expensive because it was endangered. It was also more aggressive than the white rhino and the poachers were aware of that. There was thus a higher demand for it.
Mr S Huang (ANC) remarked that the DEA was intending to use about R250 million for the border fence and that people from
Mr Mketeni replied that that there were quite a few instruments which dealt with
Mr De Lange said that how people perceived concurrent powers was different to the way it had been conceived in the Constitution. Both levels of government had equal rights to legislation on all aspects of an issue. However, if there was a conflict in law between national and province, then Section 146 provided that the national legislation would prevail. He advised the DEA to study the Constitution a lot more as power could be taken away from the provincial level and given to national. He advised the DDG further that it was his job to impress upon everyone where things were not working and convince his Minister to give them the tools to persuade the provinces. It was time to stop failures in government holding back progress. He did not want to hear again that things could not be done because of the provinces. He concluded that a lot of the issues raised would be tackled in the workshops with stakeholders.
Wilderness Foundation submission
Mr Andrew Muir said he had six points to share. Biodiversity needed to be taken into account. The rhino was one of the few remainders of the dinosaur age and it was an iconic species globally. If 90% of the rhino population globally is in the borders of SA and it became extinct within two decades, then
Mr Muir urged the government to consider the issue of resources. To adequately protect a rhino in the wild would cost about R25 000 a year. The real question was to ask from where the money should come. Formal conservation would need to find ways to generate that income.
Mr De Lange intervened that even using the horns of animals that die naturally would still mean there would be a trade.
Mr Muir noted the number of NGOs raising money for rhinos – they knew of 150. Only 20 of them could account for where the money had gone. One had to ask whether some were poachers. The Wildlife Foundation completely supported the DNA Database and the national management plan had to be implemented as a matter of urgency. Finally, it agreed that the permit system, especially the hunting moratorium, should be lifted.
Mr Morgan asked Mr Muir to comment on conservation in the provinces if the drop in funding was from cost cutting by Treasury or was it because the conservation mandate had grown.
Mr Muir replied that it would be unfair to say that there was not a commitment. It was also not a question of massive production and budget but to allocate them wider. Prior to 2008, they were not worried about it, but they became huge issues as money had to be moved from somewhere else and other resources had to be brought in. Funds would need to come from the state.
Mr Huang asked if the figure of 150 NGOs in the world was correct.
Mr Muir said that it was. A lot of money had been raised in SA but without a database for that information, there was no way to say that the money was going towards saving the rhino.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature submission
Mr Joseph Okoro congratulated the government on being proactive in convening an open session to discuss the issue. He acknowledged the strengths seen through government initiatives, creating enabling conditions to provide feedback and some initiatives in terms of sensitization, and raising the profile of rhinos locally and globally. But WWF wanted to look at the facts and to look at the gaps. There was a will from the SA side, but not from the partners of the MOUs. They were not effective. WWF had supported putting together MOUs and discussions. Very heavy investment was found in security and protection, but there was a need to go back to focus on growing rhino numbers and act as buffers against mortality. There was little control and enforcement against poaching. There was a lack of an integrative approach. Governing authorities need to focus more on these aspects and there was also a need for cross-cutting linkages to ensure conservation of the rhino. They would like to address the efficiency of the current environment structure. The SA structure was recognised as one of the best in
Mr Okoro looked at what had changed since 2008 from three different angles: the need for national support, Interpol and upscale of bilateral relations, the need for greater action to exclude rhino products from medicine and that SA needed to be a leader to come up with joint actionable statements. There was also a need for training and capacity building. The private sector had come out as one of the role players. The WWF recommended governance, database management, relevant conservation bodies and it wanted to see a centrally regulated rhino protection unit as well as cooperation between national and provincial bodies. The WWF would also like to see the legal rhino horn trade shut down.
Mr L Greyling (ID) commented that the topic was a difficult one and one needed to think out of the box. The question was from where the funds were going to come. He asked for elaboration on the suggestion to increase the number of rhinos and also on recapitalisation and incentives for the private sector. The current incentive structure was working against people owning rhinos and he asked how that could be changed.
Mr Okoro replied that government needed to support the private sector through policy and to recognize the road that had already been laid in growing the rhino numbers over the last fifty years. At present most of government’s funds went through provincial and state owned protected areas, but it also needed to support the private sector to reestablish the value of keeping rhino. At the moment, it was a great risk as the security cost was high.
Mr De Lange said that the suggestion of increasing the rhino numbers was problematic as there was a problem with poaching, meaning those ones would have a high chance of being killed. The priority should surely be spending to fix up the system.
Mr Okoro said that this was why WWF recommended restructuring the private sector which would give government strong control and regulation over the sector. WWF also recommended strengthening and engaging the community as part of the rhino industry. The community up to the present had not been fully engaged and there was little involvement apart from the KZN province where a few community areas existed. There must be a way of incentivising both the community and private sector to engage in rhino production but also to help in land and range expansion. There was a lot of land for example in
Mr Okoro assured the Chair and Members that if such considerations were to become part of government agenda in which government actively invested, donors like WWF would surely step in to fill the gaps. WWF was currently the largest funder of rhino range expansion in
Mr Morgan asked if all the efforts, resources and money put into protecting rhinos mattered, if the demand from people in the countries who wanted the rhino products could not be stopped. He asked if there was a way to manage demand, and if the push was not too great so that the demand was insatiable. The problem needed short, medium and long-term solutions as people were saying throw more money at it, and there were so many other things needing money, but the amount of money thrown at it would not really matter, if the demand could not be stopped.
Mr Okoro agreed that the poaching situation was alarming. Managing the demand side was a big challenge and a big task, especially based on centuries of myths propagated. To manage that, there was a need for competencies from other organisations to deal with the demand. WWF had adopted measures, and having campaigns in
Mr De Lange shared a note sent via his secretary that rhino horn was nothing more than keratin, melanin and calcium.
He asked the DEA if they knew about the meeting in
Mr De Lange said that there needed to be a price to pay if anyone wanted to kill the rhinos, as the price was not big enough at the moment.
Mr Okoro said it was why WWF was working with prosecutors and promoted bilateral cooperation to bring people to account. He introduced Ms Jo Shaw from TRAFFIC to comment on the demand side. Mr De Lange requested she add comments about routes and sources of the rhino horn going through airports and ports.
Ms Jo Shaw, Programme Manager: Large Mammal Trade for TRAFFIC which was a partner of WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) explained that TRAFFIC was busy setting up a Rhino Coordination group to look at the issues. At the moment it was looking at the SA and
The recent seizure of horns in Hong Kong seemed to have come out of
Mr De Lange asked for confirmation if it was the case that most of the horn was going out through legal customs and ports or if a big percent was being carried across the borders. Ms Shaw replied that it seemed the latter.
SADC Rhino Management Group submission
Dr Mike Knight said that because he was with the South African National Parks contingent he had asked Dr Richard Emslie to make the presentation on his behalf. Mr De Lange acknowledged his move saying it was nice to show there was not a conflict of interest.
Dr Emslie first agreed with the comments from Ms Shaw of TRAFFIC in dispelling the myth about the rhino horn being used only as an aphrodisiac. He said there was a small use for that purpose in Gujerat many years ago but as soon as the price of horn went up in the 1970s, that market fell flat. Thereafter, the rhino was used mainly for fever reducing, a Chinese remedy that had been there for over two thousand years. Some people did say it was all a myth, but a study done a few years ago in
Dr Emslie also made a follow up to the Biodiversity Management Plan mentioned by Mr Muir. A stakeholder workshop had been held and a draft was being put together.
Mr De Lange asked for a copy to be made available to the Committee before it was passed.
Dr Emslie said that the numbers continued to increase and that SA was conserving thirty nine percent of
Over a period of 18 years, there was hardly any poaching – the rate of 0.03 rhinos per day. Then there was a massive escalation since 2007 reaching a peak in 2011. From 2009 to 2010, poaching increased by 173%. Poaching increased by 35% in 2011 which was the smallest rate of increase the country had had in four years. There was a steady escalation in poaching in 2010 and the last four months of 2010 was pretty much equivalent to the average for 2011. The escalation from 2007 to 2010 started to level off in 2011 due to greater efforts at law enforcement and court involvement, an indication of some success. Despite the poaching, the numbers were still increasing. With a starting population of 20 200 of both black and white rhinos and looking at a 19 year period, starting from 1991 to 2010, the average net growth rate after natural mortality and hunting and so on, had been 6.9% per year translating to a growth of 1 428 rhinos last year. Even if the poaching figures are subtracted, there was indication that numbers continue to grow. If the rate of 173% increase in poaching continued, the numbers would have started to decrease in 2013, but thankfully the efforts to curb poaching had showed some signs of success which had kept those numbers down. At the rate of 35% increase in poaching, decline in numbers would start to be seen by 2016. If the rates of the end of 2010 were compared with that of the end of 2011, then the increase would have been about 22% for that year-period which if they continue, then numbers could decline around 2018. Unless consistent effort was made to curb poaching, all the rhino would be lost.
The very high demand in the black market in
Mr Morgan asked why demand had suddenly increased in the past four years, given that demand was a function of a long-held belief going back thousands of years. What had happened in the past four years that was separate from the long held-belief? Also who were the stakeholders that should be involved in discussions? He asked about views on the
Mr Emslie explained that rhino horn had been part of Chinese belief for 2000 years and even if there was a substitute, it may still not work. The reason for the increase was probably due to new uses. A government official, for example, in
In reply to Mr Huang asking if there was a 35% growth per year and about the differences between black and white rhino, Dr Emslie said that it was the rate for the previous year. White rhinos tend to be poached more but there was no difference between the two horns. It would not be sustainable for poaching to increase every year, but it had been encouraging, as the situation seemed to be leveling out. Dr Knight said that Limpopo and
Dr Wilhelm Schack said that there was a need to build a clear vision and mission and to ask governments to make decisive actions as the rhino poaching situation was a runaway train and it had to be derailed. The answer was in the political will. If horns were donated, then we would cause confusion and we would then show ourselves as very generous and open doors for future negotiations. SA was in the framework of the BRICS and it was important to build good relationships and show itself as generous being that generosity and gifts were the cornerstone for diplomacy. Basically, if SA could not beat them, then it needed to join them. His detailed plan involved setting up an African-Asian rhino initiative culminating in a rhino treaty. The consumer market was on board and talked to each other. To sign a treaty, SA would have to deploy a special envoy to Asia, to be accommodated by the Embassy in
Mr De Lange said that Dr Schack had gone to the heart of the problem, which was between Africa and
Ms Tsotetsi remarked that relationships needed compliance and this was not seen in the proposal.
Dr Schack replied that if SA launched a treaty, everything discussed in the meeting needed to carry on until such time that it was clear in everyone’s head that a win-win situation could be reached.
Mr De Lange advised the DEA to look at the proposal as it had some seeds of ideas though he was nervous to create more things – as it might create more fragmentation. The champion of the rhino was the DEA.
Eastern Cape Tourism Agency submission
Mr David Balfour said that some points in his submission had been covered already. He re-emphasised the success story of the white rhino and SA had a global advantage in sustaining it. The black rhino however had a slightly different story though proportionately, the country’s ability to contribute to the black rhino conservation was higher than ever before. The agency was suggesting several things to be considered. The first was to increase the chance of being caught through improvement in communications between law enforcement and monitoring and supporting field law enforcement efforts through improving training in paramilitary type skills. Another proposal was to enhance early carcass detection and to maintain and grow the DNA database. It was also important to reduce the opportunity to evade the law and to revive legislation being discussed, impose harsher penalties on those that were caught, and avoid temptations to target certain states. The government also needed to look to establishing an efficient and effective database to manage the issuing of real time permits, hunting and movement. Another consideration included increasing the chance of being prosecuted if caught. The DNA database would need to support training to staff for crime scene management, training to prosecutorial and judicial staff. Another matter to look at would be to increase disincentives to poaching as fines were not working, as they just became an operational cost. Rather, it was suggested to promote asset forfeiture where appropriate. Lastly, reduce reward for the sale of the horn and have a long-term strategy for raising awareness in user countries.
Additional considerations involved looking at the economic value of rhino. The private sector was an important stakeholder. There was a need to map the gene pool of rhinos in the country. Globally it was known what the original one looked like. This was an opportunity to engage in the industry to protect the gene pool by regulating our industry. It would also be important to keep in mind the need to avoid temptation of focusing on the live population. The smaller population needed to be a broad national integrated effort. There was already a national task team but operational parameters needed to be strengthened and promote the use resources that were there. It was important to revisit the suggestions made the year before to have intergovernmental coordination and to work with user countries.
Mr De Lange asked to what extent were rhinos promoted in the tourism sector. The DEA replied that the rhino was one of the Big Five. However rhino poaching was tarnishing SA’s tourism image.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife submission
Mr Jabulani Ngubane said that his agency had a proud record of rhino conservation. It had set up the KZN rhino security programme components and the organization had achieved most of its objectives. It had assessed the risk and threats in all thirteen rhino reserves. Standard operating procedures were in place and implemented. It had worked hard to secure adequate funding manpower and refocus resources. It was also working actively to develop a proactive strategy to curb rhino poaching through good intelligence, rather than being reactive.
Their recommendations included legalizing the trade in rhino horn for those that had died naturally. He urged the Members to look at the oil model, diamond model, and the vicuna model. Once the market was legalized, then controls could be strengthened. A national DNA database was also recommended for the samples such as the one at the veterinary genetics lab at Onderstepoort.
Mr Morgan asked how far the organization had gone in legal training in terms of the work done and coordination with the national government, especially what the organization was feeding into the national debate on the issue.
Mr Ngubane said that KZN Wildlife was a provincial body and the mother body was the Department of Environment and Tourism. Nothing formal had been submitted about legal trading but the organization would like to see it being debated in bigger forums. A proposal had been drawn up but it had not been submitted.
Mr De Lange said he wanted to see the proposal.
Mr Terry Bengis submission
Mr Bengis said that he was making his presentation on behalf of Rhino Guardians. He urged the members that if nothing was done now, the animals would be lost forever. It was important to understand what it was that needed to be done. The effect of poaching just grew the market. In the last few years, the market had been created legally. To stop it there was a need to cut the supply off. There was a need to put in place a moratorium on all activities around rhinos: no trade, no poaching, no hunting but to account for all the rhinos in the country. Once a moratorium was in place, then the DEA would need to implement other measures such as penalties. People convicted should be denied bail. Any person convicted of poaching offence would immediately have their possessions forfeited by the Asset Forfeiture Unit and after conviction for the assets to be sold. Mr Bengis expressed disappointment that SA was not utilizing the sophisticated technology available like the use of the Unmanned Airborne Vehicles which were manufactured in SA. He suggested that any pilot found participating in poaching activity should have their licence cancelled and their names forwarded to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in every country that was signatory to ICAO so that they could not obtain a similar licence in that country. He urged the South African Government to engage in a robust manner with the Chinese Government and with others who had the markets for rhino parts. Mr Bengis proposed a rhino levy, collected at airports and at protected areas, to cover the cost of the programme.
Mr Bengis concluded that SA needed to go back to the reason it conserved, to get away from the notion that wild life was just another commodity to trade and to make money off. The continued argument that hunting made a massive contribution to conservation needed to be proven. Mr Bengis referred to the use of technology in poaching.
Mr De Lange said that in terms of asset forfeiture, one could take assets before proving the crime was done and it was one way of looking at it. He agreed that the Asset Forfeiture Unit was a very strong weapon.
Mr Morgan thanked Mr Bengis for always taking the time to come and bring interesting insights to the Committee on various issues. He said that Mr Bengis mentioned military technology SA may already have which he was not aware of, if he could provide more information. If the stakeholder workshop the Chairperson had suggested were to happen, then the military or whoever owned the technology would be one of the stakeholders to be involved.
Mr Bengis explained that over the years, SA had become leaders in the development of the unmanned Airborne Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV). Recently,
Mr Morgan also said that Mr Bengis was the first person to mention civil aviation and that the Civil Aviation Authority needed to be involved as most poaching was done through the use of light aircraft or microlights. He referred to a comment about closing the airspace, saying that a lot of airspace activity could be used for policing purposes.
Mr Bengis said that he was not suggesting the closing down of the airspace but controlling it better. He explained that with a rotocraft, they usually put a helicopter on the back of a trailer and off they go as they had already targeted the farm. They would park the trailer nearby and the helicopter takes off from the trailer comes back lands on the trailer and its gone. He was suggesting not to allow that. If one wanted to transport a helicopter on a trailer, one needed to get a permit from a magistrate. When a magistrate handed a permit out, he would alert everybody from the police to national parks. On the issue of microlights which could also be used, they were not registered on the ZS register but on the ZU register which is for non-type certificated aircraft, and the owners can do their own maintenance. He suggested that the coordinates of the airspace where the farms were located where the rhinos were, needed to be given to civil aviation and if anyone needed to use that space, they would need to file for a flight in the area by making a phone call.
Mr Morgan asked Mr Bengis to give his view on rhino economics.
Mr Bengis said that it was possible to control the market and referred to the suggestion from Ezemvelo to look at the diamond model. He said that De Beers did it very well. When they wanted to manipulate the market, they let stuff into the market, they take stuff out of the market and they have control of it. The only way of controlling the market was to know how many rhinos there were and a proper census was needed.
Margot Stewart submission
Ms Stewart said that she had concerns during her last visit to a
Mr De Lange expressed his sincere gratitude to Ms Stewart for making her voice heard and taking the personal expense to be at Parliament.
Ms Manganye referred to the comment Ms Stewart made that the custodians, the government, had lost control of the situation, saying that this was the platform that the situation was being addressed.
Mr Michael Eustace submission
Mr Eustace said that he was an investment analyst and he was in Parliament to argue for a regulated trade in rhino horn. There had been a failure on the trade imposed by CITES in 1977 as all it achieved was drive trade up and drive it underground. There was a need for a new plan and regulated trade was the best chance in doing that. According to the figures provided, 900 horns fetched R600 million. SA could easily provide 900 from those that died naturally. No killing was necessary as all those who were doing the killing were criminals and they got all the money. CITES had a conference every three years and the pro trade argument was compelling and SA needed to use its best lawyers to present its case at the next CITES meeting. He urged the DEA to put forth a proposal to allow trade at the next CITES meeting in March 2013.
Mr De Lange said that he had asked the department to provide information on the proposal.
Mr Morgan asked for further information on how the rhino demand could be met through trade. He wanted to know if the demand and hence supply through legal means would not stimulate more demand, to the extent that market could not provide that, thus leading to an increase in poaching
Mr Eustace said that the price brought the demand into balance with supply and that was what was happening at the moment. The price of the horn at the moment was US$ 45,000 / kg. We know what the supply is and if we trade, the price will bring demand into balance.
Mr De Lange asked from where he got the figure of 900.
Mr Eustace replied that it came from the 450 poached the previous year, added to the 200. Then there was another 50 poached between
Mr Morgan asked if part of lobbying for legal trade was to reduce poaching. And if there was legal trade, how could the state capture its value.
Mr Eustace said that there could be a central selling organization that could administer a quota relative to the holdings of rhino. If the SA government for example owned 90% of the rhino, then they would get 80% of the sales. The other part would go to the private sector.
Mr Michael ‘tSas-Rolfes & Mr Clive Walker submission
Mr ‘tSas-Rolfes said he was making the submission on behalf of Clive Walker and himself. Clive Walker had been involved in rhino conservation for forty years. They both called for more political will and engagement at the highest level. It was also very important to protect rhinos on the ground but there were serious constraints due to lack of budget.
They called for outsider evaluation and security training. He referred to a workshop that was held in Skukuza in 1998 for lessons to be drawn from there. They asked for consolidation in the policy and that there should be no fine option, there should only be jail sentences. Finally there was a need to look at legal trade, acknowledging the ban since 1976 and to ask if it had been effective. It was important to understand if the dynamics of demand were understood. They proposed an international workshop.
Mr ‘tSas-Rolfes said he was a Wildlife Resource Economist. He had been to
There should not be a moratorium on hunting. Pseudo hunters are a problem but stopping them would reduce the source of income to the country and reduce the supply to the country. What was seen after the moratorium in 2007-2008 was a direct response to the constriction in supply. It was also important to engage with the Asian consumers in their role as consumers.
Mr De Lange asked if the Gary Becker article could be sent to the Committee.
Mr Morgan said that even a niche market could grow. He asked if enough was known to be sure that if the trade were legalised, the demand would not go up – that the market could not supply.
Mr De Lange asked if they were proposing to follow the diamond route
Mr ‘tSas-Rolfes said that he was pessimistic about the price being controlled. It could be influenced a bit, and regulated. He proposed to set up a market mechanism freely and competitively so that market could find its own level. The price could be monitored over time. If the rate of growth could be compounded then the returns could be 15 - 18%, a real rate. It was important to see the market firing ahead. In the case of inelastic products consumption had never gone up afterwards. It was important to go back to the market being a niche market as there were particular people who wanted to use the products. This was a belief-based niche not a middle class one.
Wildlife Ranching SA submission
Mr Pelham Jones said that private Rhino owners of
A summit was held the year before for the owners at Onderstepoort where 175 delegates had attended and various resolutions were made. One of the concerns was related to weapons as there had been requests to fast track the granting of licences to individuals certified and accredited to carry weapons in endeavours of anti poaching and this was causing a lot of frustration. The private owners were soft targets, as poachers knew they could come onto properties and nothing could be done about it. An area where the state was not coming to the party was media interaction. Rhino poaching was now a huge matter of international interest and concern. SAN Parks as well as NatJoints were not media friendly as the media were perpetually looking for information to carry the story of the plight, the drama and the trauma that South Africans faced. Statistics seemed to be some kind of state secret. Information had been requested from the National Prosecuting Authority but it was not forthcoming. They also wanted to bring attention to suspect and bogus fundraisers who were raising funds and leading the public astray. They advised that only accredited bodies be supported such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF and others.
A delegated authority had been handed down as part of the NatJoints structure to the provincial structures to provide certain functionalities to project private property – only one province was partly functional and the rest had not even started yet. Government was requested to assist in fast tracking the anti-poaching unit. The national investigating team was severely under-capacitated having a shortage of personnel, vehicles and other resources.
The Association appealed to the Minister not to entertain the moratorium, as it was counterproductive but to adopt the decision to pursue the proposal to CITES 2013 of legalising trading. There was an urgent need for an electronic database and the need to prevent information leakages. They also called upon the Minister to uplift the existing domestic moratorium on trading of rhino horn.
Mr De Lange asked what was being done about the Association’s member who could be involved in the poaching.
Mr Morgan asked for Mr Jones views on the
Mr Huang asked for clarification on the table value of the rhino horn and how the Association could reduce the poaching.
Mr De Lange informed the meeting that Mr Oriani-Ambrosini was not a member of the Committee but the rules of Parliament allowed him to participate.
Mr G Oriani-Ambrosini (ANC) asked what would be viability of a large campaign of hunting of rhinos through helicopters or other means for the purpose of removing the horn and replacing it with a screwed in prosthesis of concrete titanium with the same functional capacity. This could be a government programme or private contractor. This would be in the context in which the hunting activity is charged to the hunter, which would be an international attraction that would promote tourism as something people could come and do in
Mr Jones said that green hunting or removal of the horn without killing the animal had been allowed up to a certain point but it had been stopped because it was an inappropriate practice. The principle was that the hunter could hunt the animal, photograph it and then the animal could go back unaffected. The principle went back to the concept of selling rhino horn by private land owners who could harvest the horn and wait for the next one to grow taking into account that the rhino horn had a re-growth rate of 2cm/1kg per year. Poachers did not respect whether an animal had been dehorned but would kill it for a little bit of growth.
Mr Jones said the members who participated in illegal activities were dealt with. The Association itself was proactive with the Hawks and provided information on individuals who were not completely clean.
Mr De Lange asked if any names had been given, if Mr Jones could provide them.
Mr Jones advised that the investigations were ongoing and they had provided the names to the Hawks. Hence he apologised he could not provide them in the public forum.
Mr De Lange acknowledged this and said it was in order not to give the names.
Mr Jones said they had also proposed that landowners who had not given information on their stockpiles would be given an amnesty period.
In relation to Northwest and
In relation to the legal trade, the country would suffer R48 billion as a direct loss for the stolen rhinos. He referred to page 5, points 1, 2 and 3 where the legal trade described what would happen if there was a delay in the implementation of legal trade in either 2012 or 2013, which would cost R12 billion. Mr Jones said that the only winners in the situation were the bad guys. No one else benefited.
In reply to Mr De Lange asking how much it would cost to shoot an animal or the cost of a hunt, Mr Jones said that for a European or American hunter, it averaged at about R650 000 to R700 000 per hunt. This was the combination of the daily rate and the trophy fee. It excluded travel related costs.
Mr De Lange asked how much a horn of a very big rhino weighed and Mr Jones said it was about 5 to 5.5 kilograms. Mr Jones reminded the meeting again about the importance of having a genuine hunter versus a pseudo hunter – someone who did not have a history of hunting but was only interested in getting the horn to be sold to the industry.
Mr Morgan wanted to follow up on the interaction of Mr Jones’ Association with the government and where it was at with the issues presented. He also asked if there were formal channels to talk to government on such issues and if the government was responding.
Mr Jones said it was a very frustrating process. When they first addressed the issues, the process started very slowly. Often they did not know to whom to go to take these matters. Out of 15 points of which five were raised with the department, there had been no response so far from government. However they were getting excellent cooperation from the Hawks and NPA and DEA.
Rhino Reality submission
Mr Galeo Saintz said he was representing two NGOs, one was based in the
Rhino Reality proposed that the second war could be won by ending the demand for rhino horn in
Mr Saintz pointed out that it was important to decouple the relationship between economics and cultural beliefs, focusing on the science. He challenged government to take a strong stance and stand on one side.
Mr De Lange said that media communication was interesting and good ideas were being presented.
Mr Kobus Du Toit submission
Mr Du Toit discuss a central database as the solution to the problems faced by all the entities relating to rhino poaching. The biggest problem was that the wildlife industry was fragmented into a production camp (agriculture) and a conservation camp (environmental). The central database would gather sound statistical information to enhance decision-making. It would also identify and support research topics that are relevant to the well being of the industry. Furthermore, it would have readily available denominator data to quantify disease spread and risk and hence improve the ability to control disease outbreaks in or from wildlife.
Mr De Lange confirmed that Wildlife Trust was based in
Mr Morgan asked if the DNA sample was currently mandatory or voluntary.
Mr Du Toit said he had just started to populate the database of the Hawks. The Rhino had been done manually and at present there were about 4000 rhinos on the database.
Mr De Lange expressed disappointment that the SAN parks representative had left without asking to be excused. The meeting was told that he had to leave earlier to catch his flight.
Belynda Petrie submission
Ms Petrie said she was representing a group of individuals and an environmental NGO and their submission was based on issues of survival obligation and constitutional obligation. Their position was that of no trade. The trend was the legal position of animals having rights. The Constitution of SA provided for sustainable utilisation. The view had been that this had been transformed into something that knew no bounds and it was a worrying trend especially where government was insisting on nature paying its own way. The fact that SAN Parks was selling its animals made it complicit in the rhino trade, legal or not. They called for an immediate ban of trade on rhino or any of their parts; carrying out investigations of horn infusion technology; improve forensics intelligence and law enforcement; not bowing to the commercial interests of a few; not giving in to a very small group who had a pro trade lobby. They also cautioned against any numbers presented by the pro trading lobby, as the market research was not there.
Mr Morgan remarked that over the last twenty-five years due credit had been given to private owners for growing the population. There had been problems, but if the trading was closed down and hunting entirely, what incentive would there be for private rhino owners to keep them and breed them? No one was helping to keep their populations.
Ms Petrie replied that legal hunting was not the only way to increase populations. The initial drive came from the hard work of individuals. From the perspective of economic value, tourism figures need to be looked at as an incentive for breeding rhinos. Farmers were breeding all kinds of species and they were not hunted.
Mr Oriani-Ambrosini said that the presentation dealt with the problem from the supply side. Prohibitions would become self-defeating and the question was always how to ensure long term viable and sustainable rhino populations.
Mr De Lange thanked everyone especially those who to privately funded themselves to get to the meeting. Most of the day was spent on how to get the present system to work better. He urged the DEA to capture all the different proposals.
He was worried that though there was information, he was not sure how far the Department was as the custodian of that information. There was a need to put together a proposal on what was available in terms of this information and what was going to be done to empower the DEA to have it all in one place. The DEA also needed to look at how the permit system was working. It also needed to put in place a plan on the database matter. The stockpile issue was a big problem and he wanted to know what needed to be done so that the DEA could know what that stockpile was.
Once the DEA had a plan in place then it could see how to engage on it and approach Treasury with the plans and budgets to support any proposal.
He requested the DEA to do a breakdown of the proposals and do an analysis of the views presented.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Eko Wild (Pty) Ltd submission
- Wilhelm Schack submission
- Mr ‘tSas-Rolfes submission
- Michael Eustace submission
- Steven Kreher submission
- Kobus Du Toit: Wildlife Audit System presentation
- Emzevelo Wildlife submission
- Emzevelo Wildlife presentation
- Clive Walker submission
- Kobus Du Toit submission
- Margot Stewart submission
- Rhino Guardians: T.M. (Terry) Bengis submission
- WWF submission
- Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) Letter
- Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) submission
- Wilderness Foundation submission
- RMG SADC Rhino Management Group submission
- RMG SADC Rhino Management Group presentation
- Rhino Reality submission
- Michael Eustace submission
- Kobus: J.G. du Toit (1) & O.L. van Schalkwyk submission
- Eko Wild presentation on Wildlife Audit System
- Eko Wild submission on How to Improve Wildlife Production in South Africa
- WWF presentation
- SADC Rhino Management Group presentation
- Eko Wild presentation
- Rhino Reality presentation
- Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency presentation
- Department of Environmental Affairs: Rhino Poaching – Government Interventions presentation
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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