0039 A black rhino carcass lies in the bush after poachers shot and killed it in order to get to the horn the same poachers also shot and wounded Phila who has survived two poaching attempts in which she was shot a total of nine times. Phila is being guarded round the clock by Tau and Khekeleza police reservists from Orlando, Soweto. 131010 - Limpopo Province. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Cape Town - Vietnam and Mozambique have been given a year to clean up their acts with regard to rhino poaching or face possible international trade sanctions.

And South Africa and Mozambique have also been given a year to enhance bilateral co-operation with each other and their respective neighbouring states, as a way of boosting current anti-poaching efforts and curbing the trade in rhino horn.

The Kruger National Park, on the border with Mozambique, is being called “the epicentre of rhino killing”.

A fourth country, Laos, on Vietnam’s western border, is also in the anti-poaching spotlight, as officials from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) have been instructed to look for funding to send a technical mission there to check enforcement measures to combat the illegal wildlife trade, particularly in rhino horns.

These were among the final decisions being made at the 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) of Cites, attended by 179 signatory countries and drawing to a close in Bangkok. The convention allows for tough trade sanctions on member states who do not adhere to decisions.

Cites’ latest moves were welcomed by international conservation group WWF, which said governments had made “a clear choice” to offer better protection for rhinos.

“(They agreed) on timelines that will help two of the worst offenders in the rhino horn trade, Vietnam and Mozambique, clean up their act. This is a big step forward for the protection of rhinos, prehistoric animals that are being butchered for their horns at alarming rates to feed demand primarily in Vietnam,” said Carlos Drews, head of WWF’s delegation at Cites.

“The challenge now is to ensure that Vietnam and Mozambique make progress… to avoid trade sanctions.”

Cites’ members supported a comprehensive directive to all countries that included the need to:

l Enact, or use existing, legislation to facilitate the use of specialised investigation techniques such as controlled deliveries and covert investigations to investigate wildlife crime-related offences.

l Maximise the impact of enforcement actions by using other tools such as anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture legislation in support of wildlife legislation.

Vietnam was told to conduct consumer behaviour research, to be able to develop and implement “demand reduction strategies” aimed at reducing consumption of rhino horn products.

Mozambique must as a priority enact and implement legislation, “with deterrent penalties”, to combat wildlife crime and prevent the illegal killing of rhinos. - Cape Argus