For use of the media
not an official document.
UN meeting to tackle escalating
Nairobi/Geneva, 17 November 2008 – In an effort to stop
the escalation of rhino poaching and to break up criminal networks
involved in the increasing illegal trade in their horns, the Rhinoceros
Enforcement Task Force of the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is meeting
in Nairobi from 18 to 19 November 2008.
The CITES Rhino Task Force brings together wildlife law enforcement
officials from range, transit and consumer countries to facilitate
the exchange of intelligence on rhino-related crimes. The following
countries and territories are represented at the meeting: mainland
China, Hong Kong S.A.R., Kenya, India, Mozambique, Nepal, South
Africa, Thailand, the United States of America, Viet Nam, Yemen
and Zimbabwe. The officials involved include CITES Authorities,
Customs and police officers, a special agent and a national parks
law enforcement officer. Representatives of the CITES Secretariat,
Interpol, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime will also attend.
Commenting on the importance of the meeting, Willem Wijnstekers,
Secretary-General of CITES, stated that “the escalation
of rhino poaching in recent weeks is threatening the success of
conservation efforts undertaken by African and Asian countries
over the last 20 years. Although rhinoceros populations are increasing
in some areas, there is no room at all for complacency".
Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are used in traditional
medicines or as dagger handles. CITES banned international trade
in this product in 1977. After suffering greatly from poaching
in the 1980s and 1990s, some rhino populations started to recover
in Africa and Asia following the implementation of conservation
programmes. However, armed conflict and political instability
in parts of Africa as well as a resurgent demand in Asian markets
have been undermining those efforts in some areas. At least 40
white rhinos have been reportedly poached in national parks and
game reserves in South Africa this year. In Zimbabwe and Mozambique,
the number of illegal killings has increased dramatically over
the past few months. As for the northern white rhino found in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation is critical.
CITES Enforcement Task Forces have previously been established
to tackle wildlife crimes related to tigers, falcons and great
apes. Outcomes of such meetings have included guidance on gathering
and analysing crime information and intelligence, specialized
training, identification guides and awareness-raising materials.
The networking opportunities also enable enforcement officers
from around the world to collaborate more effectively.
The CITES Secretariat is administered by the United Nations
Note to journalists: Task Force members will
be available for interview by the media at the Fairview Hotel
in Nairobi, at 5pm on Wednesday 19 November 2008.
For more information, please contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head
of Media, on +41 79 596 57 37, or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, on Tel:
+254 (0)20 762 3088; Mobile in Kenya: +254 (0)728 600 494, or
Juan-Carlos Vasquez, CITES media officer, at +41-22-917-8156
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