CITES and confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn – to destroy or not destroy?

Over the past 24 months we have seen a number of countries, including Belgium, Chad, China, Hong Kong SAR, China, Czech Republic, Gabon, France, Philippines, and the USA, destroy stockpiles of illegally traded elephant ivory and rhino horn that have been seized and confiscated.

I have been invited by national CITES authorities to witness several of these events and was able to accept the invitation on three occasions, namely for events held in China, in Dongguan and Hong Kong SAR, and most recently one at the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Czech Republic. My statements made at these events are all publicly available.

These events, and on occasion my personal participation in them, attract a significant amount of commentary both in favour of, and against, destroying confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn. Two examples of comments posted on our Facebook page after the recent Czech Republic event to destroy rhino horn illustrate the point:

- This is the most stupid event John Scanlon has been involved in…. obviously he is being led by others outside of CITES…

- Great action, thank all for doing this very much! The world need more action like this!



Burning of confiscated rhino horn at the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Czech Republic on 21 September 2014

So where do I, as Secretary-General, stand on the issue of whether to destroy or not to destroy confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn? The starting point for the Secretariat in considering any CITES issue is the Convention text and the Decisions and Resolutions adopted by the Parties to CITES. They bind the CITES Secretariat, including myself, and we adhere strictly to them. We are also mandated (under Article XII of the Convention) to present suggestions to the Parties where we deem it necessary.

So, what then is the position of CITES Parties – the 180 States that have joined the Convention, on the issue of whether to destroy or not destroy confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn?


14 poaching suspects arrested in one weekend

Kruger National Park Joint Operations

South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced three highly successful operations since Friday morning which led to the arrest of 14 suspected rhino poachers. This brings the total number of poaching suspects arrested in the Kruger National Park (KNP) this year to 113.

In a joint operation with members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) on the morning of Friday, 17th October, SANParks Rangers stopped a suspicious vehicle near Skukuza and arrested 5 suspects. A .375 hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment as well as a vehicle were confiscated in the operation.

Later on during the afternoon of the same day, three other suspects were arrested in the Malelane area. During this operation SANParks Rangers, whilst on patrol in this section of the KNP, noticed a suspicious vehicle suspected to be involved in rhino poaching activities.

On Saturday, 18th October, in the Punda Maria section of the KNP, shortly after sunrise, a joint SANParks and SAPS deployment, supported by South African National Defence Force (SANDF) air wing, made contact with three suspected poachers. During the engagement, two of the suspects were seriously wounded and arrested while the third was arrested unharmed. The two wounded suspects were immediately taken to hospital where one later died of his injuries. The remaining wounded suspect is currently receiving treatment under police guard in hospital. A hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment were also recovered at the scene. Further follow up investigations in all three operations are currently underway.


Unitrans VW steps up once more to make a difference in the war against poaching

Unitrans Volkswagen re-affirmed its commitment in the fight against rhino poaching with the signing of a new sponsorship agreement with the South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers at SANParks Head Office in Pretoria today.

South Africa is home to approximately 22 000 white and black rhinoceros of which more than 10 000 are found in the Kruger National Park. This represents around 70% of the world’s total rhino population. The South African population is one of the last viable rhino populations in the world, which makes its survival crucial.

The Unite Against Poaching initiative has contributed almost R7 million to the SANParks’ counter poaching effort over the past three years.

“As the SANParks Honorary Rangers we are very excited about the continued relationship with Unitrans. It is partnerships of this nature that allows us to provide the desperately needed support in terms of training and equipment to the counter poaching teams who are in the bush at this very moment. Unitrans Volkswagen has shown the true commitment of a patriotic company which is dedicated to look after one of our country’s most iconic animals and a valuable conservation resource” says Louis Lemmer, Chairperson of the National Executive Committee, SANParks Honorary Rangers.

Divisional Chief Executive of Unitrans Volkswagen, Kevin Gillmer confirmed the sustained commitment to ensuring that the field rangers on the ground have the skills and equipment to allow them to continue their fight against Rhino poaching. “Unitrans Volkswagen, through the Unite against Poaching fund are honoured to have been able to contribute to the fight against rhino poaching, within South African National Parks (SANParks). Together with the SANParks Honorary Rangers we will continue to empower the dedicated field rangers in the protection of our rhinos.”

SANParks has called on corporates and individuals for extra support for the Honorary Rangers' counter poaching effort in order to assist its rangers in the field. The partnership with Unitrans Volkswagen is a great example of what can be done. Through the sale of vehicles by the ten Unitrans Volkswagen dealerships across the country, the company is able to sustain its support and make a major contribution in the counter poaching war.

SANParks Acting CEO, Abe Sibiya acknowledged and appreciated the re-affirmation of the partnership with Unitrans. “Unitrans Volkswagen is setting a good example of what other corporate citizens should be doing in securing the future of parks. We are truly indebted for Unitrans’ generosity and putting their money where their mouth is. Thanks again to Unitrans VW”.

“The time is now for everyone to Unite Against Poaching and help ensure this precious heritage for our children’s children,” concluded Sibiya. For more information visit

(From left to right) Glenn Phillips, SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism Development and Marketing; Kevin Gillmer, Divisional Chief Executive of Unitrans Volkswagen and Louis Lemmer, Chairperson of the National Executive Committee, SANParks Honorary Rangers at the signing of the new sponsorship agreement.

Participating Dealerships

You can support Unite against Poaching at any one of the participating Unitrans Volkswagen dealerships


Report incidents of poaching & tip-offs
  to 0800 205 005,
08600 10111
or Crime-Line on 32211
787 rhinos killed already in 2014
1004 Rhino lost forever in 2013
Funds raised so far since September 2011...
R 6 977 450


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Proud winner of the

2013 SANParks Kudu Award

Proud winner of the 2013

GRAA Rhino Conservation Award




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