It has been recently reported that South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs has called on animal rights activists to join forces with the government in its efforts to battle rhino poaching. The country has lost a total of 262 rhinos to illegal poaching since the beginning of this year, and 173 people have been arrested in connection to the ongoing catastrophe. Among the provinces targeted include KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West provinces which together account for a hundred rhinos killed. The department stated that South Africa would continue its efforts both nationally and internationally to address the issue. It has been said that South African Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa improved the norms and standards for the marking of rhinos and their horns, and for trophy hunting of rhinos to intensify the needs related to hunting. The newly revised norms and standards came into effect on April 10, and include, among others, that an applicant must turn in certain information to the issuing authority. This information includes a proof of membership of a hunting association in the client's country of usual residence. In addition to that, the association must be recognized by the government of that client's country of usual residence. Furthermore, the information should also include a curriculum profile showing the client's hunting experience in his/her country of residence and proof of previous experience in hunting of any African species.
As part of the procedure, the issuing authority must consider whether the hunting client's country of usual residence, where a rhino horn and rest of the trophy will be imported to, has proper legislation to guarantee that the horns and the rest of the trophy will be used for the purpose as shown on the permit. The department has advised to all provincial conservation authorities, responsible for issuing hunting permits, to shun all white rhino hunting applications by foreign hunters coming from Vietnam. This recommendation will be in place until Vietnam has verified, in writing, that all rhino trophies exported since 2010 are still in the hunters' possession. Also, Vietnam's CITES Management Authority informed the department and the CITES Secretariat that they were carrying out this process. A list of permits affirmed at the OR Tambo International Airport has been provided to Vietnam. The department stated that due to the implementation of these measures, a number of hunting applications has diminished and no further applications have been received from the supposed consumer nations of China, Thailand, and Vietnam. As of now, all hunting applications have been submitted to the department to confirm whether an applicant has hunted a rhino within the specific calendar year.
I find this article very interesting because it gives an idea what South Africa is doing in its efforts to protect the rhinos by conducting changes in the rules of hunting of these animals. This includes providing clients with a recommendation to submit information, which consists of showing proof of membership to any hunting association(s) in their countries of usual residence, proof that those associations have been recognized by the governments of those countries, a curriculum profile indicating clients' experience in hunting, and proof of any previous experience in the hunting of any African species. Furthermore, as part of these newly revised norms and standards, a client may only be allowed to hunt one white rhino within a particular calendar year. In my opinion, this layout of rules gives an idea of how South Africa has intensified its laws in legalized hunting of wild animals. But what really surprised me is that when these measurements were taken into effect, none of South Africa's provinces received hunting applications from any would-be hunting client in South Africa or anywhere in the world. I think because of these new norms and standards, people seem to be taking the amendment as a message that they do not want to take any chance of hunting a rhino or any other animal in South Africa. However, I also know that one can never be too sure. There have been perpetrators who have done whatever it took to diminish the rhino population over the years, and there will always be more to continue the ongoing slaughter. It is the same concept which applies to other parts of the world in places rich in biodiversity. The battle against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is a never-ending one. For this reason, I feel that it is crucial that governments around the world should forge alliances with each other, along with local and international conservation organizations in order to put a stop to the ongoing killings and pillaging of the natural world.
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