Minister announces committee to probe rhino poaching

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pretoria – Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on Tuesday announced a committee of inquiry that will look into matters of rhino poaching, including the feasibility of trade in rhino horn.

“In the coming months, the men and women (in the committee) will consult with all relevant stakeholders before submitting a set of recommendations,” Minister Molewa said during a media briefing.

The committee of inquiry comprises stakeholders from both the public and private sectors.

“This includes representatives from law-enforcement agencies, SANParks, the scientific community, immigration service, revenue service, conservation industry, private wildlife owners, community organisations as well as non-governmental organisations and traditional leadership,” Minister Molewa said.

She said rhino poaching continued to threaten the survival of the species and South Africa’s sterling conservation track record.

“We have indeed been making progress in winning this war. But we have realised that in order to deal with the problem, we are continuing to look at additional solutions to complement existing efforts,” she said.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has a number of interventions to fight rhino poaching. They include strategic translocation of rhino, increased collaboration between law-enforcement agencies, disruption of criminal syndicates and tightening ports of entry and exit to combat the smuggling of illicitly sourced wildlife parts, including rhino horns.

Other interventions include providing economic alternatives for communities vulnerable to recruitment by poachers and collaboration with range, transit and end-user states.

In July 2013, the department was mandated by Cabinet to investigate the feasibility of a proposal for the legalisation of a trade in rhino horn.

A committee of inquiry was established to make recommendations to the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) appointed by Cabinet.

Minister Molewa said due to the technical nature of issues to be discussed by the committee, a technical advisory committee has been established to support the IMC.

She encouraged members of the public to make submissions to the committee of inquiry.

“We owe it to ourselves and future generations that we do not sit complacent on the sidelines. So write, present and engage. We are waiting to hear from you,” Minister Molewa said.

Committee structure

The 21-member committee is chaired by Ms Nana Magomola, a lawyer and businesswoman with more than 30 years’ experience in a wide range of corporate and legal fields.

The committee will report to the IMC before the end of 2015.

The terms of reference of the committee include investigating, evaluating, reporting on and making recommendations relating to a diverse set of key areas, including but not limited to:

  • An analysis of the current rhino situation and interventions to address illegal killing of rhino and illegal trade in rhino horn, with a focus on government initiatives;
  • Identification of new or additional interventions required to create an enabling environment for the sustainable utilisation of natural resources and to strengthen the integrated approach of the government in addressing illegal killing;
  • The socio-economic impact and potential benefits to communities, farmers, conservation authorities and rhino and elephant conservation, including the economic opportunities for communities from wildlife management, and the risks posed by wildlife trafficking (e.g.  infiltration of criminal elements in communities);
  • The potential impact of various interventions and management scenarios on the conservation of the species, including range expansion;
  • The implications and risks for enforcement and security matters and mechanisms to mitigate (dynamics of wildlife crime and the key issues to be considered in terms of addressing current enforcement challenges and anticipated enforcement challenges);
  • Implications for other range States, including precautionary measures; as well as implications for consumer States;
  • The criticisms or concerns relating to trade and the means to address these criticisms and concerns; and
  • Engagement strategies for the various role players involved, with a special focus on communities.

The committee of inquiry will consider information submitted by stakeholders and invite organisations or individuals to present information to it for consideration.

A schedule of engagements or workshops being convened by the committee will be made available in due course. –

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