|South African demand for legal trade in rhino horns leaves India jittery
TIMES OF INDIA
Nitin Sethi, TNN
May 16, 2012
DELHI: The surge of poaching of rhinoceros in South Africa could lead
to threats to the one-horned Indian rhino in faraway Assam and West
Bengal if the African country decides to go ahead and demand opening
the international trade in rhino horns.
Speaking at the first
stock taking meeting of the World Bank-led Global Tiger Recovery
Programme in Delhi, Keshav Varma, programme director of the Global
Tiger Initiative, warned that South Africa, unable to contain poaching,
was inclined towards opening the trade in rhino horns. International
trade in rhino horns is banned under the UN Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
horns, which are costlier than gold today, fetch upwards of $50,000 per
kg in the international market and are used in traditional oriental
Varma warned that if the South African
proposal found support, the demand for horns from India could surge,
leading to higher levels of poaching.
India is home to about
2,500 one-horned rhinos with the armour-plated animal found only in
Assam and West Bengal and one patch - Dudhwa National Park in Uttar
Pradesh. While poaching at one time threatened the animal in these
patches, it has not suffered the kind of pressure the South African
rhino faces where more than 400 rhinos were poached for their horns
last year. This year, Varma said, South Africa had been losing rhinos
at the rate of almost four a day.