By Kim Helfrich
The ongoing slaughter of rhinos in South Africa to feed an apparently insatiable appetite for horn in certain Far Eastern countries has attracted the attention of the White House.
A day before a roundtable on counter-poaching and the link between poaching and transnational and trans-regional trafficking hosted by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS) in Washington, United States President Barack Obama announced the members of an advisory council to his Task Force on wildlife Trafficking.
This follows a July Executive Order in which Obama said: “Poaching generates billions of dollars in illicit revenue each year contributing to the illegal economy, fuelling instability and undermining security”.
The Order said that “in appropriate cases the US shall seek to assist those governments in anti-wildlife trafficking activities” and “in concert with the international community and partner organisations the US shall seek to combat wildlife trafficking” while also seeking to “reduce the demand for illegally traded wildlife, at home and abroad”.
SA Army Reserve Force Colonel Marius Roos, managing director of Pathfinder Corporation, a private security company working on counter-poaching efforts, and Scott Williams, a former US military officer now director of the non-profit Reserve Protection Agency, were guests at the ACSS discussion.
They discussed, in depth and detail, the magnitude of the rhino poaching problem in South Africa and the difficulties in finding a solution to it.
The discussion took place this week at the same time as the South African anti-rhino poaching initiative Stop Rhino Poaching, under the leadership of Elise Daffue, announced that 727 rhinos have been killed so far this year by poachers. This is 39 more than were killed in 2012. More....