CITES and the Rhino Horn Trade
IRF believes that the rhino horn trade should not be legalized
until there are convincing data indicating that legalization
will enhance wild rhino conservation efforts.
Heated discussions in the international conservation community are percolating about the legalization of trade in rhino horn, as well as trade affecting the conservation of other wildlife and plant species. Beginning Saturday, September 24, representatives from nearly every country on Earth will gather in Johannesburg, South Africa for the world's most important meeting regarding wildlife trade – the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.
The debate to legalize rhino horn trade has deeply polarized the rhino conservation community. The key issue is whether or not legalizing horn trade could escalate demand in Asian markets. Legalizing trade lends credibility to the idea that rhino horn has medicinal value, which is not supported by credible scientific studies. And, there is no way to predict what the unintended consequences of legalizing horn trade might mean for tiny populations of Sumatran and Javan rhinos, already teetering on the brink of extinction.
It is safe to say that all parties agree that we would like to see self-sustaining, viable populations of rhinos in the wild. No one wants extinction for these magnificent animals. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will solve the rhino poaching crisis: legalizing trade on its own will not work; nor will anti-poaching patrols be sufficient unless there also is a reduction in demand for horn in Asian markets. For now though, there is not enough information available to determine whether legalizing horn trade will exacerbate the current poaching crisis.
To read more about this complex issue and to learn what you can do to get involved, follow this link to our website. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more information from the CITES COP. IRF will be in Johannesburg later this month to be one of the many voices for rhinos.
Thank you, as ever, for your support and belief in IRF's work.