CITES Announces GEF/UNEP-Backed Rhino Project

13 June 2012: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) announced the approval by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of an innovative rhino project. The project, backed by the GEF and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), will strengthen wildlife forensic capabilities in South Africa to combat wildlife crimes. 

The US$3 million project was developed in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa and UNEP, with the support of CITES. The goal of the project is to reduce poaching of rhinoceroses and the illegal international trade in their horns by improving the enforcement capacity in southern Africa through forensic-based technologies. Monique Barbut, GEF CEO, noted that the project reflects the GEF's commitment to protecting the world's biodiversity, including rhino.

Funding will be used to provide timely DNA analysis of forensic evidence for the prosecution of wildlife crimes, and improve the existing coordination and information sharing among all stakeholders involved in the law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts in South Africa and the region. John Scanlon, CITES Executive Secretary, applauded the GEF for its creative and innovative response to the threats faced by rhinos, which affects not only the species but the ecosystems they inhabit, as well as the jobs and livelihoods of local people.

The Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa will be the executing agency for the project and UNEP will be the implementing agency. The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) will support South Africa in the implementation of this project. [CITES/GEF/UNEP Press Release]