By Rhishja Cota-Larson
A “wildlife crime scorecard” released by WWF reveals that laws prohibiting commercial trade in rhinos, tigers, and elephants remain poorly enforced throughout Asia and Africa.
23 range, transit, and consumer countries from Asia and Africa were selected for the study, which evaluates the progress made since CoP15 in 2010, regarding illegal trade in ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts. Countries were given “scores” of green, yellow, and red to “indicate whether governments are moving in the right direction to curb illegal trade in these species groups, or to indicate whether they have made little progress”.
A green score indicates “some progress in key aspects of compliance and enforcement”; yellow means “failing on key aspects of compliance or enforcement”, while red is reserved for countries which are “failing on key aspects of compliance and enforcement”.
Rhino horn trade
Vietnam and Mozambique were the only two countries which received red scores regarding illegal rhino horn trade.
Vietnam was identified as the primary destination for South African rhino horn, yet authorities have not made any seizures since 2008. Law enforcement follow-up by Vietnamese authorities is lacking for Vietnamese nationals arrested in South Africa. Vietnamese nationals have also acquired hundreds of rhino horns legally via trophy hunts in South Africa, while Vietnam has been unable to ensure that these horns were for “non-commercial purposes”. In addition, penalties for possessing rhino horn and for trading in rhino horn (both on and off the Internet) are inadequate.
Mozambique has failed to “enforce its border areas” and has not “coordinated” with other countries on the matter of illegal rhino horn trade, despite a high number of Mozambican nationals being arrested in South Africa for rhino crimes.
South Africa received a yellow score for its efforts to combat illegal rhino horn trade. Although it has “made great strides in compliance and enforcement since 2009-2010″, South Africa continues to fail in key enforcement areas and the number of rhinos killed illegally continues to rise.
China “was the only country to receive a green score for rhinos”. It was noted that China’s 1993 ban on the use of rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine remains in place, and that “an entrepreneurial project to breed white rhinos imported from South Africa for their horns has not been given permission by the government to engage in any rhino horn trade”. More....