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FOREWORD by Dr Peter Oberem – President of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA)

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” Winston Churchill said. His adage those who care, that there is no longer any more room or time left for mistakes. The very existence of the species is under serious threat. The old conventional methods of protecting the rhino have over the past decade proven to be unaffordable, unsustainable and completely ineffective in stemming the losses, which are mainly due to poaching. Perhaps the remarkable successes in increasing the numbers of rhino in South Africa, which is a result of good cooperation between government and private game ranchers, have lulled us into complacency. It is time to rethink. In broad terms, the answer is simple: there is no single measure that will on its own be successful and sustainable. Those of us who care, and private game ranchers who show their commitment to the species and conservation as a whole by footing the enormous security bill with little or no return, have to employ all measures that:

Increase the risk to the poacher using:

  • Increased preventative security (at a huge cost)
  • Increased and improved policing and forensics
  • Better prosecutions
  • Stiffer penalties

Decrease the benefit to the poacher by:

  • Reducing demand, if at all possible, as I equate the difficulty of changing deeply ingrained, 5 000-year-old cultural practices with changing views on the big religions of our world, which are only 2 000 years old.
  • Creating a reduction in price (not easy due to the limited amount of horn available by the illegal route – in fact, our increased risk strategy actually works against this concept).
  • Creating a legal, well-controlled rhino horn trade. This will have very many positive effects, not least for the poor rural communities in regions where rhino are still found, and for those who today are struggling to meet the huge financial demands of protecting our dwindling asset without compensation.

It is now time to ensure we learn from the mistakes of history, forget about everyone’s own particular preferences, and use all the tools available to us before it is too late for these iconic species.

Read the entire magazine here.

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Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.