Cites gives green light on white rhino down-list proposal

White rhino population estimated at 1 237 in 2021
Namibia made this proposal in an effort to facilitate trade in live animals for in-situ conservation and trophy hunting.
Ellanie Smit
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) secretariat has recommended that Namibia’s proposal to down-list its white rhino population be adopted at the World Wildlife Conference in November.

Namibia made this proposal in an effort to facilitate trade in live animals for in-situ conservation and trophy hunting.

The secretariat published its final recommendations on the 52 proposals that will be presented to this year’s meeting, which all relate to species that have been put forward for changes to the regulations that govern their international trade.

The secretariat has looked at each of the proposals in detail and is providing guidance and recommendations designed to help the Cites parties as they consider the position they will take for each, it said.

Regarding Namibia’s proposal, it was found that the country’s white rhino population does not meet the biological criteria for its inclusion in Appendix I.

The species can therefore be transferred to Appendix II in accordance with precautionary measures, it said.

Small population

The secretariat added that the Namibian white rhino population is estimated to have totalled 1 237 in 2021.

While it is quite a small population, it noted that Eswatini’s much smaller population was transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II and there do not seem to be any indications of aggravating factors.

“Namibia reports exporting only three to four live specimens annually for non-commercial purpose in recent years, but they express a hope to increase this if their proposal is adopted.

“For hunting trophies, according to the Cites trade database, the annual number of trophies of this species exported by Namibia annually is in single figures, but Namibia also hopes to increase this if the proposal is adopted. The species seems highly managed in Namibia and measures to enforce the proposed annotations limitations appear satisfactory.”

Poaching figures

The secretariat added that illegal killing of white rhinos in Namibia is at less than 1% of the population per annum, and shows no upward trend.

However, recently, rhino poaching has increased in the country, with figures for this year already at 57, surpassing last year’s 44.