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End silent slaughter of African rhinos

November 2, 2010 12:51 PM
The endangered African black rhino. Pic: Matt Field

Liz Lynne is backing calls to help South Africa stop poaching gangs hunt the rhino to extinction

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne has backed a growing cross party campaign in the European Parliament for action to stop the slaughter of endangered rhinos by poaching gangs.

As the value of rhino horn ivory increases in China and Vietnam, where it is used for dagger handles and traditional but unproven medicine, criminals with chainsaws are killing more and more rhinoceros by cutting off their horns.

Liz Lynne, a longstanding campaigner against animal cruelty, has signed up to an all party declaration calling for the European Union and member states to step up international action to protect the African rhinoceros.

Numbers roaming in the wild have dropped from 70,000 in 1970 to an estimated 18,000 now and the rate of decline is accelerating.

Liz Lynne said: "It is shocking to hear of the appalling cruelty of these criminal gangs, many of them equipped with helicopters and guns.

"The South African government need help to train their police and anti poacher patrols to be as effective as possible, and also ensure they have the right equipment to catch these ruthless criminals, either in the act or as they smuggle the rhino horn out of Africa.

"A very small amount of money to help training could save these magnificent animals from becoming extinct.

"I also believe there may be scope for international action to put pressure on the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to reduce the demand for these illegal products in their own countries.

"The EU is an important trading block for both these countries and strong pressure by the EU Commission and the new External Action Service could help swing the balance."

The Declaration needs to be signed by 369 MEPs to become adopted by the European Parliament. Anyone who wants to help should write to their local MEPs and urge them to sign up to Declaration 0074.

ENDS

0074/2010

Written declaration on the silent slaughter of rhinoceros in southern Africa

The European Parliament,

  • having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, for years, various African countries have seen the silent slaughter of rhinoceros by unscrupulous poachers, who are the 'tip of the iceberg' of criminal organisations specialising in the smuggling of animal horns and skins,

B. whereas there are now 18 000 rhinoceros in Africa, compared with 65 000 in 1970, and whereas illegal hunting has reached record levels in 2010, putting rhinoceros in danger of extinction,

C. whereas the value of rhinoceros horns incites smuggling, especially to countries such as China and Vietnam, where they are prized for their great medicinal virtues, and to the Middle East, where the ivory is used to make costly dagger handles,

D. whereas, notwithstanding the establishment of protected parks, it takes poachers just a few minutes - using well-tested methods - to drug the animals and remove their precious horns with a chain saw,

1. Calls on the Commission and the Council to:

  • recognise that the impact of speculative poaching is absolutely tragic for African nature reserves,
  • identify ways of putting a stop to the slaughter by providing training for local staff with a view to setting up anti-poaching units able to reduce the drastic spread of this problem;

2. Calls for consideration to be given to the possibility of introducing financial support measures;

3. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the parliaments of the Member States.