South Africa has a proud history of rhino conservation, where both state and private protected areas continue to play a critical role in conserving white and black rhinos. However, with the current rhino poaching onslaught in the country where the numbers poached have increased drastically from 13 in 2007 to 1004 in 2013, conservation agencies, private rhino owners and rhino conservation allies are working intensely and relentlessly at fighting the scourge through both intensified law enforcement as well as through new and innovative approaches, that are focussing on both short-term interventions as well as long-term sustainable solutions. We are privileged to have assembled top conservation scientists, practitioners and an economist who will share their insights in presentations and a panel discussion on combating the rhino poaching problem.

Richard Emslie (IUCN-ARSG) will give an update on poaching at a continental scale, as well as an update on the CITES Rhino Working Group submission to the 65th CITES Standing Committee that took place in Geneva in July 2014. Richard will also provide a summary of how white rhino sales in SA have been affected by the poaching crisis.

Cedric Coetzee (Manager Rhino Security, Ezemvelo) will focus on Ezemvelo’s response to the poaching crises in KwaZulu-Natal and will highlight and explain the main objectives and aspects of the KZN Rhino Protection Programme.

Sam Ferreirer (SANParks scientist) will present the SANParks perspective of what he refers to as “the perfect rhino poaching storm”. Sam will highlight what he and his colleagues from SANParks feel is required and are doing to calm this storm. He will show that calming this storm requires managing the threat to rhino as well as rhino themselves, and also illustrate that sustainable and growing rhino populations only result when authorities disrupt organised crime networks, irrespective of strategic threat management options. He will also highlight the need for improving sustainable livelihoods for people living next to parks, as a key element in calming the rhino poaching storm.

Pelham Jones (Private Rhino Owners Association) will highlight the increasing cost of rhino conservation on private reserves, which contribute about 27% of the SA white rhino population. He will explain the rationale for the PROA’s stance on sustainable utilisation as a solution to the rhino poaching crises, and present the recent history and issues relating to the trade debate on the road to CITES 2016.

Keith Lockwood (Independent Economist) will provide an economics-based view of the issue of legal trade in rhino horn. As per the title of his talk, he will highlight the characteristics required of a legal trade regime in order to reduce rhino poaching.

Enrico Di Minin will present an ecological-economic analysis to understand whether a legal trade in horn could be useful to address the rhino crisis. Enrico will show that legalising trade needs to go hand in hand with enhanced law enforcement, and that funding generated from trade could be used to enhance protection of rhino populations and ultimately lead to an increase in the size of rhino populations.