|Photo Caption: Pair of rhinos. Credit: USFWS|
September 10, 2013
All Rhinos Brought Under Protection of the Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the listing of the southern white rhinoceros as threatened due to a “Similarity of Appearance” to other rhinoceros species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This action brings the last unlisted rhino under immediate protection of the ESA and closes a loophole that has been exploited for trafficking in rhino horns.
This interim rule was published in the Federal Register on September 11, 2013 and is available online at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-11/pdf/2013-22132.pdf. The Service is opening a 30-day public comment period on this interim final rule. To submit comments electronically, please visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–HQ–ES–2013–0055..
The Service has a long history in rhino conservation. We’re investigating and prosecuting traffickers in rhino horn, working with partners on-the-ground, and driving conservation action through international treaties. The dramatic increase in rhino poaching over the last several years has prompted a thorough evaluation of U.S. regulations related to wildlife trafficking and we’re committed to facilitating law enforcement actions by closing loopholes that could be, or already have been, exploited for trafficking in rhino horn and other wildlife products.
Coordinating and Enhancing Law Enforcement Efforts
The Service’s Office of Law Enforcement investigates interstate and international trafficking in rhino parts and products. Its efforts to protect rhinos also include working with law enforcement authorities and alliances in rhino range states and market countries and providing instructors for enforcement capacity building programs in both sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
Operation Crash – an ongoing nationwide criminal investigation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – is addressing all aspects of U.S. involvement in the black market rhino horn trade.
Operation Crash Fact Sheet
Protecting Rhinos and their Habitats
Through the Wildlife Without Borders - Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, the Service is working to restore rhino populations to healthy numbers in the wild. Since 1994, the Fund has supported groups engaged in successful conservation efforts. These include fighting poaching; managing habitats and ecosystems; developing nature reserves; developing community conservation initiatives; managing human-wildlife conflict; and raising public awareness.
Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund fact sheet
Summaries of projects funded by the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund in 2012
Driving Action through International Treaties
This past March, amid increased awareness of the rhino poaching crisis, the member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened in Bangkok, Thailand for the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16). At CoP16, CITES Parties agreed to a series of actions for both rhino range States and consumer countries to more effectively combat poaching and illegal rhino horn trade, including country-specific, time-bound actions particularly focusing on Mozambique and Vietnam.
The Service implements the provisions of CITES in the United States and leads the U.S. delegation to CITES meetings. For more information on CITES and its implementation in the United States, please visit our International Affairs page.