The United Postcode Lotteries, together with their partners the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) and the World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF-NL), commit to tackling rhino population decline using a multi-pronged, systems-based approach through the new and innovative African Rhino Protection Programme. This approach includes fighting rhino poaching criminal syndicates head-on, and providing habitat and species protection support to southern African countries and their conservation agencies. The Programme will expand it substantial resources and partnerships to generate further impact. The objectives of the Programme are to fight against rhino poaching at a local (protected areas), national (South Africa), regional (Mozambique and South Africa), and international (China and Vietnam) levels by deterring poaching, disrupting illegal trafficking, and collapsing illegal trade by influencing the demand and supply chains for rhino horn.
This program is aligned with national, regional, and international strategies. The main institutional structures include a Programme Steering Committee (PSC) and a Programme implementation Unit which will evolve into a National Wildlife Crime Coordination Centre.
- Enhance the relationship between key government stakeholders and community and social groups;
- Create awareness and capacitate communities about the protection of natural resources;
- Establish informer networks and improve information and intelligence sharing;
- Create opportunities for economic beneficiation and sustainable livelihoods
- Communicate useful information and positively influence perceptions; and
- Implement advanced technology to support operations, law enforcement, and prosecution
PROGRAMME FOCUS AREAS:
- Rhino Asset Management (Horn Devaluation)
The internal alteration of horn on live animals can deter poaching and illegal trafficking by disrupting the demand and supply chain. Various techniques are currently being researched and implementation of any alteration interventions will only take place upon completion of suitable studies and scientific validation of the proposed techniques. The following techniques are currently being investigated: (i) the chemical alteration of rhino horn; (ii) controlled irradiation of horn and (iii) the use of micro-sensor tracking devices to monitor rhino welfare and track rhino horn.
-Priority Protected Area Support
Intensifying and improving anti-poaching operations within priority protected areas - i.e. core areas housing the bulk of the African rhino population - including Kruger National Park (South Africa), Limpopo National Park (Mozambique), and the Rhino Reserves managed by EkZNW (South Africa). These activities include field ranger training, supply of field equipment, establishment of secure communication networks, the provision of essential law enforcement infrastructure, and the introduction of strategies to enhance law enforcement operations, such as the introduction of specialized anti-poaching units and the deployment of sniffer dogs.
- Rhino Veterinary Support
The brutality of poaching often results in traumatic injury to rhino, some of which are not killed but incur severe facial wounds. Young rhino calves also fall victim to the senselessness of poaching and these animals are often killed by poachers or left to fall prey to their environment once the parent animal is killed. In these cases, specialized veterinary support is required.
- Counter-Trafficking and Intelligence
The Rhino Protection Programme will increase its engagement with various national, international (including the US-based George Mason University) and private intelligence organizations to support its information gathering and intelligence operations. The intention of these is to target and build 'water-tight' cases against the top kingpins of the established poaching and trafficking syndicates.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) and drones are being tested for the suitable application within a protected area management environment. They will support ground based anti-poaching operations in priority protected areas, particularly at night. The project aims to identify the optimal combination of suitable unmanned airframes, sensors, and communication instruments that may be deployed to augment pro-active and reactive conservation law enforcement operations.
- Communications, Marketing and Advocacy
Targeted international communication campaigns will be launched with the main aim of influencing consumer behavior and reducing demand for rhino horn in Asian consumer countries, such as China and Vietnam. This will be coupled with a local communication campaign to promote wildlife preservation, speak out against poaching, and stimulate behavioral change within communities that are vulnerable to exploitation by poaching syndicates.
- Community Awareness and Social Development
The success of the fight against rhino poaching in the protected areas is greatly dependent on the realization of efforts to improve to livelihoods of communities residing on the boundaries of these areas. In the absence of viable economic opportunities the affected communities are easily influenced to support and harbor the criminal syndicates involved in wildlife crime. A community action plan will be prepared in consultation with the strategic partners, following which appropriate community development projects will be identified and placed in the project pipeline for fund development and future implementation.
WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE NETHERLANDS / WILDLIFE JUSTICE COMMISSION
World Wildlife Fund for Nature Netherlands will establish the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Founding partners will include the world's leading NGOs working on illegal wildlife trade issues, or related fields such as illegal extraction of natural resources, corruption, rule of law, and governance. The WJC founders and partners agree that the time has come to add a relatively new (and as yet untested) component to their arsenal of tools: the tackling of impunity. The WJC's mission will be fulfilled through two strategic objectives: to activate justice by inciting judicial or other repressive action against those most responsible for transnational organized wildlife crime, and to hold governments accountable by documenting, ranking, and publicizing government effectiveness in combating wildlife crime.
This will be achieved by mapping the transnational wildlife crime networks, and subsequently building cases against individuals (and institutions) that either perpetrate or allow the crimes. Solid evidence will be shared with local or national prosecutors. If no legal action is undertaken or investigations obstructed, the WJC may send a Judge Rapporteur for verification, or ask WJC Ambassadors (to be appointed: high ranking and prominent individuals) to intervene. If needed, further escalation may involve making cases public, calling for sanctions, etc. Scoring governments' performance in the field is considered an ultimate but highly efficient tool to hold governments accountable.
Peace Parks Foundation (PPF): in year 1, veterinary and environmental impact assessments and research will be complete. In years 1 and 2 institutional structures will be established, including the establishment of a program steering committee, program implementation unit, support structures, and partnership agreements. Detailed project plans and agreements will also be completed. In years 1-3, the international demand reduction campaign will be ongoing in China and Vietnam. In years 1-5, veterinary support projects will be in place including devaluation, rhino protection, and rhino tracking. The community awareness campaigns will be ongoing throughout the program cycle as well. Evaluation tools include analysis and tests (veterinary support), agreements, committees, strategies, action and project plans in place, minutes of meetings, and quarterly and annual reports.
The Wildlife Justice Commission process will go through four phases:
-Start up the WJC and map out wildlife crime scenarios and key individuals implicated.
-Investigate wildlife crime scenarios, build maps of facts and activate justice on a local level.
-If local justice activation fails escalate to the international level and start Panel procedure.
-Leverage existing pressure and sanction mechanisms of enforce the Panel decision.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL, combined estimates place the monetary value of environmental crime at between and billion each year. Illicit wildlife trade, a form of environmental crime, is the fourth largest illegal global syndicate after narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. While threatening the future existence of wildlife species, this illicit trade devastates vulnerable communities, drives corruption, and undermines efforts to reduce poverty. International criminal syndicates target poor communities living within and around conservation areas, offering them large sums of money to kill endangered species. Moreover, insurgent and terrorist groups that are benefitting from illegal wildlife trade undermine the international rule of law and African economies.
Southern Africa is bearing the brunt of the wildlife crime. Between 1997 and 2007, on average 13 rhino were killed per annum in South Africa. This figure jumped to more than 668 rhino killed in South Africa in 2012. By December 31, 2013, 1,004 rhinos had been slaughtered and by end June 2014 the number has already reached 558. Some rhinoceros subspecies have become extinct or are on the verge of extinction, and rangers are regularly killed by poachers. More than 83 % of rhino in Africa occur in South Africa with more than 50 % occurring in South Africa's Kruger National Park (KNP).
According to the International Rhino Coalition, the demand for wildlife products is fuelled by an ever increasing demand for luxury goods from the rising middle class and from High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) in Asia. China's middle class currently consists of 250 million people and will grow to 600 million by 2020. The explosive growth of Asian economies, coupled with an obsession to acquire high status luxury goods, does not bode well for Africa. Wildlife products like rhino horn and elephant tusks hold very high status for Asian HNWIs. These individuals are willing to pay ,000/kg for rhino horn on the black market, and the demand is ever increasing. Rhino horn now has a higher value than gold.
To complicate matters, 27% of HNWIs in China have emigrated and 47% are considering leaving. For the first time in history, large numbers of Chinese are living in Africa, collecting ivory and/or rhino horn, and shipping it out to Asia. The majority of arrests relating to wildlife crimes (seizures) involve criminals of Asian origin. The Asian obsession with wildlife products, coupled with international criminal syndicates' greed, poses severe challenges for iconic wildlife species in southern Africa.
Southern Africa's competitive advantage in ecotourism is its wildlife, with a very large number of livelihoods dependent on the industry. Increased wildlife crime is having a particularly negative impact on Africa's iconic species, which are draw-cards for tourists. If poaching is not curbed, several of Africa's Big Five will soon become extinct. In order to destabilize the market and interrupt the supply chain, new and innovative interventions are required.
To date, interventions aimed at ending the poaching crisis have focused on protecting animals from extinction, protecting biodiversity, and sustaining rural economies and livelihoods. Though these efforts have proven effective in terms of increasing arrests and creating jobs in the tourism sector, they have not reduced the rising body count. International trade policy and enforcement experts from around the world agree that more resources are required to fully understand the dynamics of international trafficking syndicates and to deal with them effectively. The resources dedicated by the world community to combat wildlife crime are clearly insufficient in comparison to those allocated for combating other large illegal industries like arms and drugs. A drastic change in response is required to curb the rate of poaching and the ever growing demand for illegal wildlife products.
Peace Parks Foundation requires funding to scale and replicate security, early warning and rapid response efforts throughout the numerous and vast priority protected areas in South Africa. Significant funding is also needed to develop impactful education and social development initiatives in communities living adjacent to protected areas.
RHINO PROTECTION PROGRAMME
The Rhino Protection Programme will offer the opportunity to collaborate, guide and share resources in terms of the following: best practice information, capacity development, development of strategy, transfer of knowledge, technical and operational support, and financial assistance.
WWF intends to be one of many equal partners to the Wildlife Justice Comission and will offer financial support, its large network of offices and specialists throughout the world, the implicit power of millions of members, and its communication capacities.