Target: Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
Goal: Reverse court decision that could promote the killing of endangered rhinos.
A South African judge recently lifted a domestic ban on the trade of rhino horns, a move that could have potentially disastrous results for the endangered population. South Africa has been besieged by a poaching crisis, and any action that makes it easier for poachers to kill and collect horns from rhinos must be strongly opposed.
The poaching epidemic saw 1,215 rhinos killed in 2014, a record high in a country desperately trying to save these endangered animals. Rhinos are murdered by poachers for their horns, which are used as a form of medicine, most often in Asia. “Lifting the ban is an extremely dangerous move,” said Jason Bell, director of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in South Africa.
Some rhino breeders claim that the creation of a legal market for horns could eliminate the need for the black market trade that has ravaged the rhino population. Legal horn removal involves a farmer putting the animal under anesthesia, then sawing off the horn. Not everyone, however, is convinced that this strategy will be effective. “If the international ban is lifted, history has shown that poaching and illicit trade will increase dramatically … The rhino population will disappear in two to three years if the Chinese consumption continues at the rate that it is today,” Bell went on to say.
Fortunately, the lifting of the ban has already met stiff opposition, as the South African government has announced its intentions to appeal the ruling. The rhino population is critically endangered, and this measure cannot be allowed to stand. Make it clear to the government that it has the support of the international community, and make sure that yet another species does not die off.
Dear President Zuma,
The recent decision to lift a ban on the trade of rhino horns is a grave mistake that must immediately be rectified. South Africa faces a poaching epidemic, but the decision to allow the legal sale of horns will do nothing to cure it. History has proven that lifting these bans do little to reduce poaching, and with rhino populations dangerously low, such a ruling cannot be allowed to stand.
Your administration has made it clear that you will fight this ruling, and for that, I applaud you. I urge you to do everything in your power to protect these vulnerable creatures, as the survival of their species lies in your country’s hands.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Karl Stromayer