Catherine Bearder MEP has joined the UK Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon in calling on the international community to take urgent action to tackle the alarming rise in the trade of rhino horn before the species is wiped out.
The call came as the EU and the UK Government submitted proposals at a Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) meeting for all countries to clamp down on illegal sales of rhino horn and tighten restrictions on the trade in rhino products.
The trade in rhino horn has been fuelled in part by unsubstantiated claims that it can cure cancer or reverse the effects of a stroke and an increase in its black market value. Rhino horn is now reported to be worth more than £50,000 per kilo - more profitable than diamonds, gold, heroin and cocaine. Three out of the five species of rhinoceros are critically endangered.
Catherine Bearder, who last year led a successful campaign to halt the one-off sale of Ivory at the 2010 CITES convention. Pressuring European Environment ministers to vote against the proposal by Zambia and Tanzania commented:
"I'm proud of the fact that the EU and particularly the British government are leading the way in fighting this archaic trade."
"The EU have had more applications than ever before for the export and re-export of Rhino horn from Member States. We had to act now and the European Union has been working with member states including the UK to ensure that all take the same approach. The European Commission issued a guidance note to all Member States in February this year urging the adoption of stricter trade controls."