Swaziland Has Another Horrible Plan to ‘Help’ Rhinos

After coming under serious fire earlier this spring for exporting 17 elephants to zoos in the U.S. in an effort to save rhinos, Swaziland is back in the spotlight again over a proposal to legalize the trade in rhino horns.

There were fewer than 35 elephants in Swaziland when Big Game Parks – a private organization that manages them – claimed there were too many of them, and they were destroying habitat needed to save black rhinos.

A deal was struck between the Dallas Zoo in Texas, the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska to bring them here, and the effort was painted as a life-saving rescue mission. If the elephants didn’t come here, they would be killed.

The arrangement was supposed to benefit both rhinos and elephants, somehow, but conservationists and animal advocates condemned the move, arguing it was motivated by money, rather than an altruistic effort to help, and that no other alternatives had even been considered.

In exchange for the elephants, the zoos would pay Big Game Parks $450,000 for rhino conservation, but now it looks like the deal was just the beginning of yet another plan that won’t benefit any of the animals involved.

Now Swaziland is back in the spotlight over a proposal to legalize the trade in rhino horn. In a leaked document that was addressed to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Swaziland proposed selling its stockpile of rhino horn, in addition to adding to yearly sales with freshly harvested horns from living rhinos.

Swaziland argued that it would use the profits for anti-poaching measures, but animal advocacy organizations including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and In Defense of Animals are calling out the deal for what it is and asking the zoos that took Swaziland’s elephants to oppose it.

“From the beginning animal protection groups have said that the zoos’ purported concern about saving rhinos was just a cover for buying wild elephants,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Unless these zoos vigorously oppose Swaziland’s proposal to sell rhino horns, their conservation claims will forever ring hollow.”

Not only will the zoos have doomed these elephants to a lifetime in captivity, which will do nothing but potentially increase their revenue, but the proposal has raised concerns about how legalizing sales would only further hurt the cause of rhino conservation.

“Just as every permitted ivory sale has increased elephant poaching, a trade in rhino horns would decimate the species,” said PAWS President Ed Stewart. “It is time for all zoos to take a stand against Swaziland’s disastrous rhino proposal, just as they oppose the trade in elephant ivory.”

The proposal will now be considered at the next CITES meeting in Johannesburg this September, but as more areas are stepping up efforts to oppose the trade in wildlife parts and nations are destroying stockpiles of ivory and rhino horn in an effort to take a stand against wildlife trafficking, hopefully Swaziland’s proposal will be shut down and CITES members will work toward efforts that will truly protect endangered species.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

112 comments

Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersen5 months ago

thanks for letting us know.

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Michael F
Michael F5 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

Unbelivable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

WTF Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

Despicable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W5 months ago

Deplorable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 months ago

thx

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william Miller
william Miller2 years ago

thanks

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

This is not drugs we're talking about; legalize ivory will just make things worse for these animals, so endangered now :(

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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