EWTalk – July 2016
A WORD FROM OUR CEO
It is quite extraordinary when I recount how much has happened, locally and globally, since my last piece was written three months ago. On the domestic front, we have received a firm position from the South African government that they will not be proposing a lifting of the ban on the international trade in rhino horn at the upcoming CITES conference to be held in September this year; and the film Blood Lions raised the lid once again on the torrid practices that occur inside of South Africa’s shameful lion breeding and canned lion hunting industries. Further afield, and possibly in response to this exposé and other pressures on the future of the lion, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the African Lion on the US Endangered species list, effectively prohibiting or seriously limiting all trophy imports. In the first four months of this year the number of rhino poached in South Africa stood at 363, down from the 404 in the same period in 2015, with 206 arrests; and whilst alleged rhino poachers have been arrested, we have also seen poachers arrested with pangolins indicating a heightened awareness among law enforcement officers of the tragic plight of this species. Worryingly, the number of wildlife poisoning incidences is on a rapid increase both at home as well as up to east Africa, but the good news is that African governments are engaging NGOs such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust to train and capacitate their staff to manage wildlife crime scenes, contain the damage and investigate the sources.
Recently, research has been published demonstrating that a legal trade in elephant ivory was responsible for triggering an increase in black market ivory production and thus the research team at the National Bureau of Economic Research demonstrated that a partial legalisation of a banned good can lead to the increased illegal production of that same good – important findings for the upcoming CITES conference at which around 60 proposals will be deliberated by Parties to amend the lists and trading status of species. These are just some of the newsworthy items perhaps not making it into your newspapers lately, due to dominance of the alarming criminal and political events that have consumed media attention in recent weeks. So a mixed bag of news, but in line with a world in which change does indeed seem to be the only assured component of life.
The EWT has a wide range of projects and activities that respond to as many conservation challenges as possible and a suite of carefully considered, debated and well-researched position statements that inform the greater public of our perspective on some of the activities and changes we observe around us. On our web site you will find, for example, our position on shark cage diving, sport hunting and shale gas mining, to name a few. The tricky part about any position, or opinion for that matter, is that it always pleases some and irks others, but we welcome your feedback and engagement on these, and in fact all important subjects, regardless. In the words of Eminem: “you mean you got enemies? GOOD – that means you actually stood up for something in your life!” Ok… so the EWT doesn’t really have enemies, but we know what he meant. I am proud of the fact that the EWT staff are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and believe me, it makes for many robust and health debates when they all get together! We welcome discussion, information sharing and engagement, and believe firmly in a healthy respect and tolerance for divergent opinions. Perhaps, through increased human tolerance all around, there would be fewer criminal and political tragedies and a reduction in the conflict we humans seem intent on pursuing with our environment and our apparent war with some of our most treasured natural wonders.
Lastly, on the subject of change: I would like to welcome the new editor of EWTalk, and our new Communications Manager Belinda Glenn to the EWT team. You will already notice, I am sure, the energy being infused into our campaigns, social media, web site and various other platforms. We have also had a number of other additions to our now 92-person strong team, and we wish all you a happy and prosperous career as part of the best Conservation Crew around.
The work of the Endangered Wildlife Trust would not be possible without you, our members, and supporters, and we thank you.