Reports from the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) indicate that talks are underway to legalise trade in rhinoceros horn, a move conservationists say will only boost the already ongoing illegal trade in the tropics.
The move comes four years after the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species legalised elephant ivory trade, and since then, EIA reports show poaching in ivory has resumed as was in the ’80s.
In a statement, the executive director of EIA, Ms Mary Rice, condemned the plans to legalise the trade, saying it will only increase demand for the rhino horn, just as it has for elephant ivory.
“The results of EIA’s investigations show that instead of stemming the poaching by satisfying the demand, the sale of the stockpiles (in elephant ivory) has simply fuelled the demand for illegal ivory,” Ms Rice said.
“Up to 90 per cent of ivory came from illegal sources and prices of legal ivory had increased to as much as $7,000 per kilogramme between 2010 and 2011. The sale has only made matters worse, with the demand in China remaining high and growing,” Ms Rice said.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has also blamed the recent increase in poaching on the legal trade of ivory.
UWA Chief Conservation Manager Charles Tumwesigye said Murchison Falls National Park alone lost about 15 elephants last year due to poaching.
Rhino Fund Uganda said the fund would not allow such a law if it is passed since evidence shows that it will only endanger the species.
“A concession has not yet been reached but I do not think the Uganda conservationists can agree to it, we cannot even dehorn rhinos because fighting that law is definitely not viable, the animal is endangered,” Ms Angie Genade, the executive director Rhino Fund,w said.