The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just placed the southern white rhino on its Endangered Species List. Photo: Paul Muoria
Rhino subspecies receives U.S. protection in light of Africa’s poaching epidemic
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) applauds the move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today to list the southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. While this rhino subspecies is not in danger of extinction, USFWS noted that its similarity to other subspecies required further protective measures, particularly in light of the rising illegal rhino horn trade.
“When the southern white rhino was unprotected, it was often used as a cover for criminals to traffic endangered rhino species,” explained Dr. Philip Muruthi, senior director of conservation science at African Wildlife Foundation. “This ruling now closes a loophole that was being abused by traffickers, and strengthens the anti-poaching efforts being undertaken by African governments and conservation partners such as the African Wildlife Foundation.”
The placement of the southern white rhino on the Endangered Species List comes at a time when poaching of rhinos has hit a crisis point in Africa. As of mid-May, the African continent has lost upwards of 400 rhinos to poaching, with South Africa suffering the greatest losses.
AWF’s anti-poaching programs have provided community scouts with training and equipment, supported the security efforts of wildlife authorities, and given much-needed support to local conservation partners protecting critical rhino populations. AWF, together with partner WildAid, is also in the midst of a multimedia awareness campaigns in Asia designed to reduce consumer demand for rhino horn.
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