Rhino Horn Import Ban (RHINO)




CASE NAME: Rhino Horn Trade Ban.

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1. The Issue

"A place on Appendix I [of CITES] has done little to help the black rhino. It has simply driven a thriving trade in rhino horn underground, and the [African] continental population has crashed from 65,000 in the late 1960s to less than 3,500 today". Between 1970 and 1987, 85 per cent of the world's rhinoceros population was killed. The cause: demand for rhino products in traditional Eastern medicine and demand for knife handles (madefrom the horn) used to make "coming-of-age" daggers for young Yemeni males. There are five species of rhinoceros alive today. Three live in Asia, and two in Africa. All are listed in AppendixI of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and considered endangered. Thislisting, and a 1987 regulation, prohibits international anddomestic trade in rhino products by CITES Parties. Although the ban has been in force since 1976, the trade continues, particularly in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The United States hasrecently imposed sanctions on Taiwan and China for their continued trade in rhino horn products.

2. Description

Rhino horn has been used as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine for 2,000 years. Virtually every part of the rhino isused: the horn for alleviating fever, the skin for treating skindisease, the penis as an aphrodisiac, the bone to treat bonedisorders, and the blood "as a tonic for women who are suffering from menstrual problems". Asian horns are more highly prized than African horns; consumers believe that their smaller size means that they are more concentrated, and therefore more potent. All fives pecies of rhino are listed as endangered by the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES). In CITES each party is responsible for ensuring the implementation of CITES regulations. The key to CITES' success, therefore, lies in the willingness of member states to enforce its resolutions. The continued trade of rhino products illustratessome of the problems with this enforcement mechanism. Several countries that are CITES members continue to trade in rhino products (particularly rhino horn), and CITES' ability to legislate domestic enforcement mechanisms are non-existent (see USCHINA case). While several international organizations are pressuring importing nations to find substitutes for rhino products andenforce prohibitions on the trade, many exporting nations are fighting an endless battle against poachers. Conflicts have risento war-like levels, especially since automatic weaponry became readily available in many African countries. In Namibia and Zimbabwe, game wardens have embarked on a project where rhinos are humanely dehorned to prevent poachers from finding the animals worth killing. This has been successful in some areas of Namibia,but poachers in Zimbabwe have taken to killing the animals simply to prove their ability to enter into the parks at random without being caught. Such measures as dehorning are employed in order to preservethe rhino in their chosen habitats. Rhino are highly sensitive tohabitat changes, and trans-located animals often die from eatingpoisonous plants or straying over unfamiliar, dangerous inclines. Their complex digestive systems are also highly vulnerable totravel related disturbances, often resulting in dehydration or starvation. Some Southern African countries with stable rhino populationsargue that legal trade in rhino products (from culling orcontrolled trophy-hunting) could provide tangible financial gain tolocal communities, thereby generating dis-incentives for poaching. In countries such as Kenya, where the rhino population has becomeseverely threatened, the survival of the species is placed in thehands of tourist dollars, some of which are targeted for investmentin local communities. Both approaches, therefore, identify theneed to highlight the value of the animals to local inhabitants. Methods for achieving this end are, however, quite different. Countries now train and pay local inhabitants as "communitygame wardens" to ensure that the animals are not harmed. Many havepreviously earned a living through poaching, but, as one Namibianput it, "we used to get food and money from shooting animals, andnow we get it from people coming to look at them. It's better thatway". The issue of funding characterizes both sides of the debate.In Nepal, for example, funds were set aside in 1968 for theprotection of the Great Indian rhino of which only 95 remainedalive. Soldiers from the Nepalese army were dispatched to guardthe animals, and by 1991, the rhino population numbered 400. Themoney, however, has since dried up. Without it, the rhino are onceagain vulnerable to poachers. The same scenario has beenencountered in Zimbabwe which has had to reduce the number of gamewardens available in its National Parks. For example, in 1991,sixteen Zimbabwean rhino were been killed: ten whites and sixblacks. All were dehorned.

3. Related Cases Keyword Clusters

(1): Trade Product = RHINOceros

(2): Bio-geography = Temperate [TEMP]

(3): Environmental Problem = Species Loss Land [SPLL]

4. Draft Author: Karen SackB. LEGAL Filters

5. Discourse and Status: AGReement and COMPlete

International trade in rhino products was banned in 1976. In1987, the CITES Contracting Parties agreed to extend the ban byoutlawing domestic trade in rhino products. The success of thesebans, however, depends on both the compliance of CITES Parties andthe participation of nations that have not signed onto theConvention. A Party may take "reservation" to a ban, in which caseit "essentially ignores it". The ban is also undermined by itsfailure to include stockpiled horns. Because it is difficult todistinguish between stockpiled and newly imported horns, a majorloophole is provided which enables continued trade. The enforcement of Rhino trade bans is largely dependent onthe compliance of individual countries. For example, althoughChina became a member of CITES on April 8, 1981, it remains theworld's largest importer of rhino horn and manufacturer of rhino products, some which are then re-exported for sale in other eastern Asian countries. In 1989, however, steps were taken to register rhino horn stocks. More than 10 tons of rhino horn has been registered -- the equivalent of 4,000 dead rhinos or the entire population of African Black rhinos. Nevertheless, internal trade in rhino horn continues in China,as does the import of medical products containing rhino horn. TheChinese government argues that the stocks being traded wereacquired before it became a CITES member. The WWF asserts,however, that rhino horn continues to be imported from abroad.The CITES regulations are not applicable to non-Parties. SouthKorea is a non-party and is a key rhino horn trader. While theKorean government legislated against the use of rhino horn in medicinal products in 1983, its failure to implement its policieshas resulted in a continuation of the trade. In 1988, a TRAFFIC(Japan) study found that 88 per cent of Korean pharmacies carried medicines containing rhino horn. Martin notes several countries that have been highly successful in preventing the continued trade of rhino horn. Actions in Yemen and Japan, illustrate the importance ofdomestically enforced government actions to counter the trade:during the 1970s, Japan imported up to 800 kilograms of rhino horn per year. After intense international pressure, it joined theCITES in 1980 and urged producers and consumers of rhino horn toutilize substitutes. According to the WWF, the Japanese market forrhino horn collapsed almost immediately, with saiga antelope andwater buffalo horn replacing it in traditional remedies. In the early 1980s, Yemen, which imported an average of 1,500kilograms of African horns per year, was the largest consumer ofthis product. The horns were carved into dagger handles, andexhibited as status symbols by their owners. WWF's attempts tonegotiate stringent domestic laws forbidding the trade of rhinohorns, coupled with economic recession, and the introduction ofless expensive substitutes (such as water buffalo horns; camelnails and plastic), has virtually stopped rhino horn imports in to this country.

6. Forum and Scope: CITES and MULTIlateral

The GATT ruling on the dolphin-tuna case, for instance, hasimportant implications for CITES (see TUNA case). Central to the CITES is the belief that, "wild faunaand flora in their many beautiful and varied forms are anirreplaceable part of the natural systems of the earth which mustbe protected for this and generations to come". The GATT rulingthreatens this statement of belief, in that according to Article30(3) of the Vienna Convention, the most recently signedinternational agreement holds sway when any decision has to beenforced where a conflict of interests occurs between a signatoryof two or more international agreements. Thus, according toBeacham, "those states that are either Parties to the GATT but notto CITES, or which have ratified the GATT after ratifying CITES,the trade measure central to the enforcement of CITES may no longerbe enforceable by a State that is party to both". While CITES prohibits international and national trade inrhino products, the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibitstrade in rhino products within the United States. The only rhinotrade allowed under the ESA is the importation of Southern WhiteRhino trophies, provided they have the necessary permits from theSouth African authorities. Japan, Yemen, South Africa, Hong Kong,Burundi, and the United Arab Emirates, have all instituted domesticlaws prohibiting the trade of rhino products.

7. Decision Breadth: 115 (CITES)

8. Legal Standing: TREATYC. GEOGRAPHIC Filters

9. Geographic Locations

There are five species of rhinoceros. The Black or Hooked-Liprhino (Diceros bicornis), is found in sub-saharan Africa. In thepast, it roamed the extent of the sub-continent, but populationsare now restricted to small pockets in Zimbabwe, South Africa,Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya. The Square-Lipped or White Rhino(Ceratotherium simum) is found in Zaire, South Africa, Kenya,Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland. The other three specieslive in Asia: the Greater One-Horned or Indian Rhino (Rhinocerosunicornis) is confined to protected reserves in Northern India andNepal; the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus), also known as theLesser One-Horned rhino, is native to West Java and Vietnam. Currently, the majority of the population (55) are located in asmall area along the Javan Ujong Kulon Peninsula. Another smallcommunity lives in Vietnam (15) The final species is the Sumatran(Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) rhino. This is the only remaining hairyrhino, and can be found in Sumatra, Indonesia, and the MalayPeninsula, with a few animals in Borneo, Burma and Thailand.

a. Geographic Domain : AFRICA

b. Geographic Site : Southern Africa [SAFR]

c. Geographic Impact : CHINA10.

Sub-National Factors: NO11.

Type of Habitat: TROPical

Rhinos in Africa live in both tropical and temperate climates. 12. Type of Measure: Import Ban [IMBAN]

In 1976, the CITES listed the rhino on Appendix I, effectivelyprohibiting international trade in rhino products. In 1987, theConvention extended the ban to domestic trade in rhino products.

13. Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: DIRect

14. Relation of Trade Measure to Resource Impact

a. Directly Related : YES RHINO parts

b. Indirectly Related : YES PHARMaceuticals

c. Not Related : NO

d. Process Related : YES Species Loss Land [SPLL]

Without the trade ban, all five species of rhino would now beextinct. While the ban has been criticized on several grounds, ithas brought attention to the plight of the rhinos.

15. Trade Product Identification: PHARMaceuticals

16. Economic Data

Thailand and Taiwan continue to demand goods containing rhinohorn. The Taiwanese government banned rhino trade in 1985 -- oneyear after joining the CITES -- but the ban is not enforced. Before 1989, stocks were imported from illegal traders operatingout of South Africa. The formation of an Endangered SpeciesProtection Unit of the South African Police in 1989 has, however,inhibited the horn flows from there and demand for African rhinohorn is down. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Asian rhinohorn. Prices of Asian horns currently reach as much as $20,000wholesale ($60,000 per kilogram retail). The Taiwanese governmentpassed a law in 1989 which required the registration of rhino hornstocks, and is reported to be considering a total ban on thedomestic trade in 1994. According to Esmond Bradley Martin, the World Wildlife Fund's(WWF) expert on the rhino trade, "more rhino products are availablein Bangkok than any other Southeast Asian city". Thailand ispart to CITES and trade has been banned in Sumatran rhino since1972.

17. Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: BAN

In 1990, the average cost per kilogram of an African rhinohorn was $10,284, while for an Asian horn, this figure reached$21,354. At 1991 prices, the cost per kilogram of rhino horn averaged at $10,000. The average value of each horn was $80,000(see Table III-58-1).

Table III-58-1 Average Cost per Kilogram of Rhino Horn, by Country Importers table alignments
Average Cost per Kilogram of Rhino Horn, by Country Importers
yearAfrican HornAsian Horn
SOUTH KOREA1988$ 4,410NA
CHINA1987$ 16,304NA
THAILAND1990$ 10,284$ 21,354
TAIWAN 1990 $ 4,221 $ 54,040

Source: E. B. Martin, Rhino Exploitation

18. Industry Sector: PHARMaceuticals

19. Exporter and Importer: South Africa (SAFR) and CHINA

The leading rhino exporters by type are Zambia for the blackrhino and South Africa for the white rhino.


20. Environmental Problem Type: Species Loss Land [SPLL]

The demise of any one of these five rhino species would be amajor loss to the earth's biological diversity. Rhinoceroses areclassed as perissodactyls, or odd-toed ungulates, and have roamedthe earth for over 50 million years. The habitat and feedingdifferences that exist between the five remaining specieshighlights this versatility. Some have adapted to desertconditions, while others live in tropical forests.

21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species

Name: Rhinoceros

Type: Animal/Vertibrate/Mammal/Odd Toed Ungulate

Diversity: 51 mammals per 10,000 km/sq (South Africa)

Javan rhinos are considered the rarest large land mammal alivetoday. They are threatened more by poaching than by habitat loss,but the two combined are working to eliminate the species. Rhinosare essentially solitary creatures. Mating occasionally, they roamover vast land expanses to meet prospective mates. The habitatdestruction that has resulted in land divisions between rhinopopulations (such as agricultural lands between protected forestareas), has limited the mobility of these animals, and theirability to remain in contact with other members of the samespecies. At least 50 animals per conservation area are required for thesuccessful breeding of a species of rhinoceros. Areas withpopulations of less than fifty are not expected to be viable forlong-term breeding, as genetic diversity is compromised. When thisis the case, the species is highly vulnerable to disease andmalformations in infants. Since 1970, over 90 per cent of theworld's rhino population has disappeared. All five species havesuffered.

(a.) Hooked-lip (Black) Rhinoceros: The total number of Black rhinos in the wild was listed at 2,400 in 1993. This is a decrease of 1000 animals from a 1991 estimate, and reflects thedemise of the species, which is expected to be extinct in 30 years. In the 1960s, the estimated population stood at 65,000. Thepicture is not entirely bleak. In Kenya, for example, the population has shown a slight increase over the past few years.

(b.) Square-lipped (White) Rhinoceros: Two sub-species ofthe White rhino exist. The first, the Northern White rhino, is endangered. It is only found in a small National Park in Zaire,and currently has a population of twenty-eight animals. This is up from a low of fifteen animals in 1984. The Southern White rhino is the only rhino that is not listed as endangered. This sub-species was believed extinct at the turn of the century, and has been protected since. Some 4,600 currently exist (down 200 from 1991),most of which are located in South Africa.

(c.) Greater One-Horned (Indian) Rhinoceros: The leastthreatened of the three Asian species, 1,700 Indian rhinos exist inthe wild today -- up from 750 in 1975, but down by 250 since 1991. They are, however, severely threatened by poaching. In 1989, 58Indian rhinos were killed in Northern India by electrocution fromfences intended to protect them.

(d.) Lesser One-Horned (Javan) Rhinoceros: Approximately 50 Javan rhinos remain alive today. As all live in one area, they are severely threatened by a lack of genetic diversity which will weaken the resistance of future generations to disease. The threat of poaching, habitat loss, and especially disease, could result in the extinction of this species in a number of years.

(e.) Asian Two-Horned/Woolly (Sumatran) Rhinoceros: The population of the hairy Sumatran rhino numbered between 500 and 900 animals in 1991. The annual loss is estimated to be 10 percent. Based on these figures, it is estimated that only about 700 animals remain alive today. Habitat loss is their most severe threat.

22. Resource Impact and Effect: HIGH and PRODuct

The rhinos are on the brink of extinction.

23. Urgency of Problem and Lifetime: HIGH and @ 50 years

Black Rhino: 50-60 years

White Rhino: 40-50 years

Indian Rhino: 50 years

Javan Rhino: 50 years

Sumatran Rhino: 50 years

24. Substitutes: LIKE products

Studies have found that several less expensive, naturalsubstitutes exist which offer the same curative mechanisms -- waterbuffalo horn, saiga antelope horn, and aspirin (derived originallyfrom willow tree bark). In order for the species to survive, athree pronged approach must be taken. First, substitutes must beused instead of rhino horn. Second, international and domesticlegislation must be enforced to prevent poaching. Third, theanimals must prove to the local communities that they are of morevalue alive than dead.

VI. OTHER Factors

25. Culture: YES

The rhino trade ban is associated with the ivory trade ban. Both animals face extinction, and methods for detecting the originsof both ivory and rhino horns are being developed simultaneously. The debate between the various African nations in favor of thetotal ban or partial ban of rhino products with legal trade alsocharacterizes the ivory trade ban. It must, however, be noted thatwhile ivory is perceived as a luxury good, rhino horn and otherrhino products are perceived by some to be a curative necessity. This complicates the case as substitutes are often regarded asunacceptable.

26. Trans-Border: YES

Rhinos are sedentary and poaching comes across nationalborders in Africa. Poaching has been linked to obtaining fundingfor guerilla organizations in several countries.

27. Human Rights: NO

28. Relevant Literature

Armstrong, Sue and Bridgland, Fred. "Elephants and the Ivory Tower." New Scientist (August 26, 1989): 38.

Armstrong, Sue. "Nose Jobs' save Namibian Rhinos." New Scientist (November 18, 1989): 32.

Beacham, K. Gwen. "International Trade and the Environment: Implications of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for the Future of Environmental Protection Efforts." Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy 3/2 (Summer 1992): 655-682.

Begley, Sharon. "Killed by Kindness." Newsweek (April 12, 1993): 50-56.Concar, David and Mary Cole. "Conservation and the Ivory Tower." New Scientist (February 29,1992): 29.

Conway, A.J. and Goodman, P.S. "Population Characteristics and Management of Black Rhinoceros Diceros bicornis minor and White Rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum simum in Ndumu Game Reserve, South Africa." Biological Conservation 47 (1989): 109-121.

Cross, Michael. "Traders Accused of Beating Ban on Rhino Horn." New Scientist (April 14, 1990): 20.

Fitzgerald, Sarah. International Wildlife Trade: Whose Business is it? Washington, DC: World Wildlife Fund, 1989.Flynn, Rodney W. and Abdullah, Mohammed Tajuddin. "Distribution and Status of the Sumatran Rhinoceros in Peninsular Malaysia." Biological Conservation 28 (1989): 253-273.

Forse, Bill. "Rhinos Find Sanctuary in Kenya." New Scientist (March 10, 1988): 28.

Joyce, Christopher. "Africans Call for End to the Ivory Trade." New Scientist (June 10, 1989): 22.

Leader-Williams, N., et al. "Illegal Exploitation of Black Rhinoceros and Elephant Populations: Patterns of Decline, Law Enforcement and Patrol Efforts in Luangwa Valley, Zambia." Journal of Applied Ecology 27 (1990): 1055-1087.

Martin, E.B. "Rhino Exploitation." Hong Kong: World Wildlife Fund, 1983.

Milner-Gulland, E.J. and Leader-Williams, N. "A Model of Incentives for the Illegal Exploitation of Black Rhinos and Elephants: Poaching Pays in Luangwa Valley, Zambia." Journal of Applied Ecology 29 (1992): 388-401.

Rookmaaker, L.C. Bibliography of the Rhinoceros. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema, 1983.Simmons, Randy T. and Kreuter, Urs P. "Herd Mentality." Policy Review (Fall 1989): 48.

Tudge, Colin. "Time to Save Rhinoceroses." New Scientist (September 28, 1991): 30-35.

Tudge, Colin. "Can We End Rhino Poaching?" New Scientist (October 5, 1991): 34-39.World Wildlife Fund. "Help WWF Stop the Rhino Horn Trade." Washington DC: WWF, 1991. References[End notes will be added]

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