OPEN LETTER & SENT COMMUNICATION
President José Manuel Barroso
Berlaymont, Rue de la Loi, 200
Date: 17th October 2014
Re: European Legislation on Restriction of Lion and Rhinoceros trophy imports into the the European Union.
We “International Animal Rescue Foundation” call for European Legislation to restrict the importation of sport hunted Lion and Rhino trophies (only) from “any country” into all European Countries within the European Union. We the named herein only support imports of Lion and Rhino parts or carcasses for veterinary science and museum artifacts for educative purposes only.
Dear President José Manuel Barroso;
Your Honorable José Manuel Barroso We International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa ask for your support to implement law[s] to restrict the import/export of Lion and Rhino sport hunted trophies into the European Union from (any country or continent). As set out under the European Union Legislation / Environmentalism and Preservation procedure stated hereto; http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1413671152558&uri=URISERV:l11023 it is the European Union and Commissions responsibility to protect the biodiversity and natural habitats of both Fauna and Flora. As we see it (now) the European Union/Commission and Parliament is failing within its duties under Protocol one of the Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade either live or dead of Lion and Rhino trophies and/or parts.
We International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa call on the European Commission to now regulate trade of both sport “hunted” Lions and Rhinos under the Act of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade for the reasons as set out herein for your information.
Restrictions on sport hunted Lions and parts under Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating/restricting trade;
- Since the early 1980’s we have lost countless individual Lions and Rhinos to sport hunters and poachers within Africa. While sport hunting may not be seen as a overall major threat to both species of Lion and Rhino it is having a detrimental effect on the now shrinking populations of Lions in Africa. And with regards to “poaching” of Rhinos something now has to give. The Rhino cannot any longer compete with the vast number of poaching incidents occurring daily of which has placed the Rhino now at tipping point. All in all your excellency should the candle continue to burn at both ends we will lose both ionic species of mammalian in under two decades. Poaching is raging out of control within Africa threatening many species alike. With South Africa being the largest country hit by poachers and visited by thousands of European and American tourist hunters a year, time must now come that we as a European Union must take evasive action to slow down and/or halt (extinction). The reasons are set out below for your information.
- A century ago there were some 200,000 Lions roaming all over the African continent. Now there are no fewer than a mere 30,000 if that with the lowest estimated figure pointing to a possible 15,000. Within the Lions existing ranges there are no more than 1,000 Lions within each of its African habituated countries of which there are more Lions within canned hunting farms and ranches than in some wild populated areas. Those Lions within canned hunting farms and ranches pose a disease and genetic risk to other species of fauna and wild Lion populations that live around these facilities.
- Over the last ten years a staggering two thirds of all Lions hunted for sport were imported from Africa into the United States of America Between 2000 and 2008, some 4,250 wild lions were exported as trophies most of which into the European Union although America was the largest importer and still is to date.
- African Lions have vanished from a whopping 80% of their range of which hunting, habitat fragmentation, human species conflict and unsustainable agriculture are primary causes for Lion depletion.
- Lions have become extinct in 26 countries. Only seven countries – Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are believed to contain more than 1,000 lions each. Panthera leo is bordering endangerment. Should restrictions not be implemented and or bans put in place then it is a sad fact of life we will lose a further 1/4 of all mature individuals thus seeing more Lions pushed from extant into “regional” extinction.
- Although the single biggest threat by far to the animals survival is humans, though not necessarily western hunters. It is just the very, very widespread killing of Lions, mostly in a conflict situation, by anyone who is trying to farm livestock in Africa and finds it very difficult to co-exist with Lions. Hunting of Lions though is still playing a great role in reducing further species of which is seeing many Lions wild and captured depleted. Furthermore the black market trade in Lion bone wine threatens our Lion species greatly. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has already this year seen further evidence of European’s involved within the black market trade of Lion bones generating hundreds of thousands “in all”.. While this evidence is within the public domain and has been for some years why are we still not taking the relevant steps to secure the species future?
- Between 1999 and 2008, 64% of the 5,663 Lions that were killed in the African wild for sport ended up being shipped to America, it must also be noted numbers had risen sharply in those 10 years, with more than twice as many Lions taken as trophies by US hunters in 2008 than in 1999. Should US hunters continue their rampage followed up with EU hunters least forgetting habitat destruction then its quite likely we’ll begin to see more loclised (regional extinctions) within the next five years. In addition to personal trophies, Americans are also the world’s biggest buyers of Lion carcasses and body parts, including claws, skulls, bones and penises, Asians the second largest and Europeans the third largest buyer. In the same years, the US imported 63% of the 2,715 Lion specimens put up for sale. While the United States, Asia and Europe hunters buy and sell the demand for Lion parts continues thus seeing the species threatened furthermore.
- From 1996 – 2008 species populations of Panthera leo has not increased but decreased furthermore seeing few localised extinctions. The African Lion is still listed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Listed as Endangered is the next step – then we will most certainly see the Lion species in danger furthermore.
- Demand from the Far East is also driving profits for Lions breeders. In 2001, two Lions were exported as “trophies” to China, Laos and Vietnam; in 2011, 70 Lion trophies were exported to those nations. While the trade in Tiger parts is now illegal, demand for Lion parts for traditional Asian medicine is soaring. In 2009, five Lion skeletons were exported from South Africa to Laos; in 2011, it was 496. The legal export of Lion bones and whole carcasses has also soared. While Tiger populations decrease so will Lions too.
- Lastly Eastern European countries such as Russia not aligned with the Cites convention nor the “European Union” are actively selling Lion skins into the market to produce rugs, upholstery, and furniture. This is a threat in its own and with all factors above combined with the trade in Eastern Europe we must now protect our Lion populations more than ever.
Restrictions on sport hunted Rhinoceros and parts under Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating/restricting trade;
- In the early 1950s, when Mao Zedong promoted so-called traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a tool for unifying the country he had recently come to lead. Even though Chairman Mao himself did not believe in TCM, he called for its use over Western medicine. Among the many “cures” touted by China’s “New Medicine” was powdered Rhino horn, which was said to cure everything from fevers to cancer. Since Mao made this public Rhinos have been decimated at staggering proportions mostly by poachers. However now as the demand the Rhino horn has increased rapidly within Asia of which the horn can fetch on the market between $50,000 and $70,000kg hunters have been caught in many stings peddling Rhino horns from their “legally” obtained trophies to supply the (TCM) market. Since the year 2000 we have lost over 3,000 Rhinos just in South Africa alone.
- Between 1960 and 1995 an astonishing 98 percent of black Rhinos were killed by poachers, either to feed the new and voracious demand for TCM or, to a lesser extent, for horns to be used as ceremonial knife handles in the Middle East. From 2000 onwards both White and Black Rhino populations are now being hit hard by poachers, every day we lose a further 3-4 Rhinos in South Africa alone custodian to the worlds largest remaining Rhino crashes. Evidence. All rhinos suffered; the western black Rhino, already weakened by decades of overhunting, was the hardest hit. The white Rhino is now at “tipping point”.
- Back in 2012 the Department of Environmental Affairs (South Africa) banned Vietnamese hunting permits due to the popularity of pseudo hunting and the then past arrests of the Gronwald poaching gang and Chumlong Lemtongthai whom hired pseudo (hunters) from Thailand and possibly other fake hunters from Vietnam. Although banned – Vietnamese hunters this hasn’t stopped foreign citizens from joining in the hunting/poaching trend. It was stated by Hon Edna Molewa and Cites that Eastern European hunting applications had shot up from 2012 by some 1000% of which its now known that Polish, Russian and Czech Republic hunters are mostly pseudo hunters cashing in on the Rhino horn demand thus supplying the Asian market in Vietnam, Laos and China with Rhino horn. Whilst this is clearly evident and “legitimate” hunting practices still ongoing this is placing more pressure on the Rhino species decreasing their populations even more of which this “fake and legitimate hunting” plus poaching has led to the Rhino populations decreasing furthermore.
- Trophy hunting does not rake in revenue – A study on the economic benefit behind Lion hunting for example in Africa concluded, “The suggestion that trophy hunting plays a significant role in African economic development is misguided…Revenues constitute only a fraction of a percent of GDP and almost none of that ever reaches rural communities.” Dr. Naomi Rose agrees as stated on the HSUS blog, “Regarding the statement that trophy hunters do a lot for conservation, it’s true that some portion of some hunters’ fees goes to conservation in some countries, but it’s rarely the major source of conservation funding. Usually middlemen—commercial outfitters—take the lion’s share of sport hunting proceeds and local communities and conservation and management agencies get the dregs.” And its quite evident that trophy hunting is not generating revenue – if it was then why is this “alleged $200 million” not seen poaching tackled. It would be quite fare to say that $200 million x 4 years = $800 million is quite enough to sustain species welfare. Yet it hasn’t which is why we call for an immediate ban of LION and RHINO trophies into Europe.
- White Rhino is currently listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List as (near threatened) Whilst we are aware that evidence has shown an “increase” of White Rhino populations poaching from either African “poachers” legal hunters and others caught (illegally poaching) has since pushed the species of White and Black Rhino to tipping point. Both Rhino species are normally gestate no longer than 15-16 months. One Rhino cow regardless of the species produces a new born every two to three years. However we are losing species of both Black and White Rhino at 3-4 every day. International Union for the Conservation of Nature has placed the number of White Rhinoceros populations at 20,160 (2010). Since 1990 and including the recent poaching figures for (October 2014) we have lost a total of 3,803 Rhinoceros. Most of these deaths have occurred in South Africa that holds a total of 93.2% of the worlds largest Rhino populations. 3,803 is not including “collateral damage” such as unborn fetus nor natural deaths. If we took unborn fetes and natural deaths into account with that of the 1990-2014 poaching figures its quite likely that the current population trend of White and Black Rhinos is nowhere near the 2010 figures of 20,160. As of 2012 International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa communicated to Hon Edna Molewa. In writing Molewa basically quoted from the IUCN the population of Rhino has increased “ten fold” mostly helped by hunters. Yet there is no evidence of such increases by even a “five fold” and if such hunting practices had increased the White and Black Rhino population then why is the Rhino populations within Africa now “threatened and still endangered” of which are standing at “tipping point”? The answer is quite simple. Our “wild Rhino” populations are decreasing rapidly. What Hon Edna Molewa most likely meant was that Rhino populations had increased ten fold on “hunting reserves” while the remainder of the wild populations the government nor Non-Profits know little about. No official census of the wild populations have been seen since the early millennium either. This gives us reason to now ask that all Rhino trophies and parts acquired via trophy hunting are banned from export/import into Europe unless for scientific and/or museum purposes. Why did Molewe not answer International Animal Rescue Foundation’s questions in full? Rather than simply copy and paste a number from the IUCN website? We believe this is because the South African government know little about their own populations of Rhino and what the real figure of wild populations of both black and white stand at. Moving back to the Census – A group of Rhino Activists did lobby the South African government (early 2012) asking for census within their (9 point plan) to be conducted supported by over 29,000 people.
- Rhinos still under threat no matter what the South African Government try to do to stem the poaching crisis – 2012 Vietnamese hunting permits were banned due to pseudo hunting. Department of Environmental Affairs believed this would someway “reduce the poaching crisis”. October 2014 though saw yet another Rhino poaching kingpin and accomplices being vets, pilots, even “HAWKS” police, arrested along with the leader himself Hugo Ras a South African hunter and attorney. Ras was known the police with regards to “poaching crimes”. The group is alleged to have contributed to the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 Rhinos in state and privately owned game reserves, resulting in 48 horns poached. Only two of the 24 Rhinos that had been attacked, survived, but they were de-horned after they had been darted. Twenty two of the Rhinos were darted with the veterinary drug M99, the other two were shot. An additional 36 horns were either stolen or obtained through other illegal means. The killings took place between 2008 and 2012, during which period the syndicate illegally obtained 84 Rhino horns and killed 22 Rhinos valued at nearly R22 million. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and International Animal Rescue Foundation Europe call for an immediate ban of all Rhino parts and trophies into Europe because there is more than likely more Rhino poaching syndicates operating of which Europe is being used as a transit route to peddle legally Rhino “trophies” through onto Asia. By cutting one of the main transit routes out we help to disrupt trade and demand furthermore.
- The rate of Rhino deaths has surpassed the rate of births. Rhino poaching has accelerated to a dangerous level. With deaths outweighing births, it puts their species just a few short years away from extinction. 1990 = 14 deaths, 1994 = 27 deaths, 2002 = 25 deaths, 2006 = 36 deaths, 2008 = 83 deaths, 2009 = 122 deaths, 2010 = 333 deaths, 2011 = 448 deaths, 2012 = 668 deaths, 2013 = 1004 deaths and to date October 2014 we stand almost at 900 deaths. While the majority of these deaths have been caused by African poachers killing Rhino to supply the Asian black market hunters, game wardens, farmers, veterinary officers and more are also contributing to deaths that we are still fully unaware of. While SAPS and HAWKS are flushing out corrupt hunters, wardens and vets poaching and corrupt hunting continues. What seems legitimate trophies being exported out off Africa in Europe could well be more sinister. Hence the reasons we call for a trophy hunting ban of Rhino into Europe from Africa based on the level of illegal poaching and that of pseudo poaching that has already been shown to be supplying the black market within Asia.
Since publishing our main petition aimed at Hon Gianni Pittella EPP, Hon Manfred Weber S&D, Hon Martin Schulz President of the European Parliament, Hon Herman Van Rompuy President of the European Council, Hon Jean Lambert MEP and Hon Keith Taylor MEP including yourself your Excellency we have amassed a total count nearing nine hundred signatures that call for a restriction of sport hunted Rhinos and Lions into all European member countries. Australia has already banned the importation/exportation of sport hunted Rhinoceros with a further ban expected of sport hunted Lions.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa lobbied with many other Non-Profits the United States too as of last year that has since prompted Director Daniel Ashe United States Fish and Wildlife Service to now look into banning/restricting sport hunted Lion trophies into the USA. Australia and the United States are taking leading steps here and setting positive and professional examples. However as yet Europe is still dragging its heals. While we continue to drag our heals both Lions and Rhinoceros continue to edge closer and closer to extinction. The time for the healing of the wounds has come your excellency.
Board of Directors
Josa C. Depre
Jon E. Williamson
Helen S. Farthing
J. C. Dimetri
Muhammad A. Muller
Sonya T. Franklin
Johan N. Strauss
Please sign the petition here