Fish and Wildlife Service, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Spotlight Rhino Crisis

Press Release
Fish and Wildlife Service, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Spotlight Rhino Crisis
*Fish and Wildlife Service, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Spotlight Rhino Crisis*

Viewers who tune in to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, PBS’s highest-rated on-going series, on Monday, April 15 at 8pm/7c may be surprised to see an interview with the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As part of the upcoming broadcast, there will be a segment that features the series host Mark L. Walberg, appraiser Lark Mason, and Service Director Dan Ashe on a visit to the Cincinnati Zoo to discuss the history of the rhino crisis and how it relates to the antiques trade. The segment is part of an ongoing collaboration between ANTIQUES ROADSHOW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal agency that enforces the Nation’s wildlife protection laws and treaties.

“We want to get the message out about protections for wildlife,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “People don’t always think about this issue in terms of the antiques and collectibles that they own, buy, or sell. Anything that creates a demand for products made from endangered species can be bad news for survival of the animal in the wild, and that’s exactly what’s happening to rhinos.”

“We're pleased to be working together to benefit wildlife conservation," says ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Executive Producer Marsha Bemko. "Our collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was born out of our desire to stay abreast of the laws around wildlife protection, and to educate our producers, appraisers and the series audience along the way.”

Ashe taped the interview last July at the Cincinnati Zoo at the request of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW* *producers who wanted to educate the program’s approximately 10 million viewers about wildlife conservation and the laws that affect buying, selling, importing, and exporting items made from rhinos and other protected species.

Rhino horn is comprised of keratin, the same material found in fingernails and hair. Nonetheless, interest in alleged medicinal properties of rhino horn has spiked in Asia and carved objects, like libation cups, are considered status symbols for the region’s new economic elites.

Rhino poaching has been on a dramatic upswing in recent years with significant losses to populations in Africa as well as poaching incidents in India, Indonesia, Nepal, and Malaysia. In January, wildlife authorities in South Africa reported a rhino “death toll” of 668 for that country alone in 2012, a level of illegal take that translates roughly into a rhino being killed every 12 or so hours.

Service law enforcement officers provided a training session to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW appraisers on site at the Cincinnati Convention Center last summer, when the Cincinnati-based episode for the 2013 season was taped. The officers explained how wildlife laws affect the import, sale and distribution of antiques and collectibles that are comprised of animal parts such as elephant ivory, rhino horn, and sea turtle shell. The Service will present a similar training session for the series’ appraisers this summer when the show films in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for its 2014 broadcast season.

The Service-ANTIQUES ROADSHOW partnership began after appraiser Lark Mason evaluated five rhino horn libation cups for a 2012 episode. While the value estimated topped all previous records for the series, the appraiser advised the owner that rhinos are a protected species and there are laws that affect the buying and selling of rhino parts and products.

Four rhino species and one subspecies are protected as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The ESA generally makes it illegal to sell rhino parts and products in either international or interstate commerce, unless the item in question is at least 100 years old and was lawfully imported under the Endangered Species Act.

Rhinos are protected globally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty of 178 nations, including the United States, that regulates international wildlife trade.

For more information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on some of the most commonly traded plant and animal species:

*Can I Sell It?:*

For more information from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW about owning animal-derived objects:

*A Teacher’s Guide:*

*The Ins and Outs of Owning Ivory:*

*Owning Animal Derived Objects: *]