Alternative management strategies to address rhino poaching in South Africa

Sam M Ferreira1, Michèle F Pfab2, Mike Knight3

1Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Kruger National Park, Skukuza;
2Scientific Authority Co-ordinator, Applied Biodiversity Research, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria;
3Parks Planning Division, South African National Parks, Port Elizabeth, SADC Rhino Management Group (RMG) & Centre for African Conservation Ecology, NMMU.

There is growing concern amongst local and international authorities about the current levels of rhino poaching in South Africa, which have escalated exponentially since 2008.  This has largely been driven by an increasing demand for rhino horn in Asian markets, and an associated increase in price along with increased incentives for poaching, and a supply that has been severely limited by a CITES trade ban since 1977.  South African National Parks (SANParks) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the latter in its capacity to support the proper functioning of the Scientific Authority, convened an expert workshop on 18 and 19 June 2012 to evaluate the risks and benefits of alternative management strategies for addressing rhino poaching in South Africa.  Participants were invited to represent a broad spectrum of stakeholders and expert interests and knowledge.  A risk-benefit approach was adopted for the workshop within an integrated framework that seeks to target drivers of demand and supply associated with rhino horn.  Participants defined six objectives, four of which were focused on conservation outcomes, one on economic values and another on stakeholder expectations.  Management options assessed included direct disincentives to poach through increased local law enforcement (status quo), demand reduction through international awareness, live animal provision, restricted trade and unrestricted trade.  Overall, benefits associated with an unrestricted trade (i.e. international trade in rhino horn) substantially outweighed the anticipated risks, while the worst-case scenario was the present status quo for which risks substantially exceeded the benefits.  A limited understanding of the Asian markets for rhino horn and the local drivers in consumer states did provide a great deal of uncertainty to participants and this was identified as a major information gap.

Presentation Topic

Alternative management strategies to address rhino poaching in South Africa


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Scientific Authority Co-ordinator, Applied Biodiversity Research, South African, National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria


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