HSBC supports WWF’s work on rhino conservation
23 April 2012
HSBC has recently made a substantial donation to WWF South Africa to assist in the conservation of our endangered rhino populations. Whilst most news related to rhino populations continues to paint a very bleak picture, WWF and its partners are confident that we can win this war and that the support from HSBC will make a significant contribution to these efforts.
It is also perhaps worth reflecting that if WWF and its partners had not invested in rhino conservation over the past several decades, the situation could have been far worse than it is. Over the past two decades, both white and black rhino populations have increased considerably as a result of conservation efforts (African Rhino Specialist Group Report, 2010). Current levels of poaching threaten to negate these gains, however, these efforts have put us in a far better position to weather the current storm. WWF’s Black Rhino Expansion Programme has been at the centre of these efforts – since 2003, seven new black rhino populations have been created on about 150,000 hectares of habitat and nearly 120 black rhino have been moved to these secure sites.
HSBC’s support will enable WWF to expand its efforts significantly to provide more comprehensive help to rhino populations at a time when they need it most. WWF is galvanising its efforts around a five-pronged approach aimed at strategic parts of the rhino poaching value chain. WWF aims to:
- Continue to improve its understanding of trade dynamics in importing countries and find ways to influence demand.
- Improve bilateral co-operation between South Africa and consumer countries, such as Vietnam.
- Strengthen the judicial and forensic processes, through capacity development and expert and hardware support.
- Build community buffers around key rhino populations.
- Continue to build resilient rhino populations by improving management of existing populations, as well establishing new founder populations in secure locations.
This strategy will build on existing work that is curently being undertaken. For instance, WWF currently supports law enforcement through helping prosecutors and magistrates involved in rhino poaching trials. This includes the development of guidelines and handbooks for use in rhino case management, and the identification and support of expert witnesses.
Law enforcement is also improved through supporting the creation of a DNA database of all rhinos in Africa. The database will enable any horns that are found to be linked to crime scenes, thus greatly strengthening the case against suspected poachers. DNA profiling has contributed to at least 25 rhino-related criminal convictions in South Africa. Regionally, WWF works to improve bilateral cooperation. DNA forensic kits have been supplied to Kenya Wildlife Services and funding given for DNA sampling of rhinos in Kenya, helping to build an Africa-wide rhino horn database.
WWF supports The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, TRAFFIC’s work on identifying illegal rhino horn trade routes, promoting investigative collaboration between countries and supporting enforcement of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) regulations.
Beating the current scourge of poaching will not be easy and there are no short cuts. It will require a strategic and systemic approach, as proposed above, to truly turn this issue around. However, WWF is confident that with our experience, commitment and passion, our international reach as a global network, and with the support of donors such as HSBC, we can and will win the war of securing our rhino populations.