Stop Legal Hunting of Rhinos and Increase Sentences of Rhino Poachers in South Africa

The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is custodian of over 90% of the worlds rhinos. Rhino poaching in RSA has escalated dramatically since 2008. During the decades preceding 2008 an average of 12 rhinos were poached in RSA annually. In 2009, 135 rhinos were slaughtered. This figure increased to a staggering 333 rhinos butchered in 2010. As of July 2011 a rhino is poached on average every 20 hours. What caused this sudden boom in poaching was when a prominent Vietnamese government officials wife stated publically that rhino horn has cured her of cancer. However, it has been proven that the horn has no medicinal value and is not a cure for cancer. Nevertheless, this statement spiked the demand for rhino horn in the Asian market. Whilst much is being done on many fronts to combat this epidemic in poaching rhinos, there are still two gaping loop holes in the South African legal system, which need to be addressed immediately:
1) Hunters and private rhino owners are still being issued with permits to legally kill these animals and many of the horns of these permitted hunts are leaving the country illegally.
2) The sentence for convicted rhino poachers are not severe enough to act as a deterrent for these poachers.

We call on the Government of the Republic of South Africa, as custodians of over 90% of all surviving rhinos in the world to:

1)Ban all legal,permitted hunting of rhinos with immediate effect, until such time as a sustainable population of rhinos is established for the benefit of current and future generations.

2)Introduce stringent sentences for all those found guilty of hunting, poaching, maiming or harming rhinos.

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