WHAT WE DO

We advocate for the survival of elephants and rhinos by working to end poaching and the wildlife trade. Our strategies include public marches and protests, lobbying world leaders to take action to ban ivory and rhino horn trade, and supporting other groups worldwide that are taking action to save these magnificent species from extinction in the wild.

Our signature annual event is the global march when more than 130 cities around the world march with one voice to demand an end to the trade in ivory, rhino horn and lion bone.

Dr. Jane Goodall encourages support of the 2014 global marches.

What We Want

The global march calls for:

  • Global awareness that governments around the world need to apply political will and leadership to put an end to wildlife trafficking.
  • All countries to implement a complete ban on commercial international and domestic trade of all endangered wildlife body parts, including ivory, rhino horn, lion and tiger bone.
  • Listing all species of elephant and rhinos on CITES Appendix 1
  • All countries to shut down retail outlets for ivory and horn and to shut down industries associated with processing these (such as  ivory-carving factories).
  • Memorandums of demand to be handed over to range, transit and consumer countries (e.g. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya,   Vietnam, China, etc.), calling for the urgent adoption of more stringent legislation to combat and deter criminal activities relating to wildlife crime.
  • Governments to tackle corruption and money-laundering linked to illegal wildlife trafficking by adopting or amending legislation to criminalize corruption and bribery that facilitate poaching and wildlife trafficking.
  • Governments to adopt more punitive legislation in sentencing wildlife traffickers.
  • Governments to strengthen enforcement of laws associated with wildlife crime.
  • An end to the capture and export of live baby elephants.
  • The United Nations, including the Security Council and General Assembly, to adopt sanctions against those countries in violation of intergovernmental agreements as adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Action to be taken at all points in the illegal supply chain in source, transit and destination countries.
  • Full engagement by governments in relevant bilateral, regional and international mechanisms.
  • Destruction of confiscated wildlife products.
  • Renunciation of the use of products from endangered species.
  • All governments to adopt or amend legislation to criminalize poaching and wildlife trafficking and to ensure such criminal offenses are identified as serious crimes within the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), as called for in Resolution 2013/40 of the UN Economic Council.
  • International cooperation, including extradition and mutual legal assistance where criminal offenses are transnational in nature.
  • All governments to strengthen legal frameworks and facilitate strict law enforcement to assist in the prosecution and imposition of penalties that will act as proper deterrents to wildlife crime.
  • Governments to strengthen law enforcement, cross-border and regional co-operation to protect populations of threatened species from poachers.
  • Ending “phajaan” (i.e., crushing an elephant’s spirit), the use of elephants in temples and parades, and elephant trekking, practices commonly used on Asian elephants.
Our Approach
City organizers and other activists will submit GMFER demands to CITES delegates and to embassies/consulates of countries involved in the supply and demand of ivory and rhino horn or are otherwise complicit in the illegal wildlife trade.

Memorandum of Demands

The Memorandum of Demands (MoD) will be delivered by city organizers to the embassies or consulates of all countries involved in the supply, demand, or transit of ivory and rhino horn, such as China, Vietnam, and South Africa. The MoD calls on governments to recognize the right of the global community to have a say in what happens to our collective natural heritage and the conservation of these iconic species. Wildlife trafficking must end.  This can be achieved if world leaders show political will and concerted action in tackling this crime, which comprises the fourth largest global illegal trade. Read the full text of Memorandum of Demands below.

 

PALSA

The PALSA (Proposed Amendments to Legislation of South Africa) calls on the South African government to amend laws and regulations that govern crimes related to rhino poaching and trafficking. Global march organizers will deliver or mail the PALSA to South African embassies and consulates around the world. Read the full text of the PALSA below.

CoP17 Demands

Over the past couple of years, in preparation for CoP17, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) called publicly for the submission of comments on various proposals and amendments it was considering for CoP17. In response to this, GMFER submitted comments that include: calling for listing all species of elephants and rhinos on Appendix 1; banning the global ivory trade; rejecting any proposals for rhino horn or ivory trade; and halting the capture and trade of baby elephants. Read the full text of one of our CoP17 submissions below. Check out a full list of our submissions to USFWS on the CITES CoP17 page.

Memorandum of Demands

BACKGROUND:

African megafauna are in deep crisis. It is estimated that an African elephant is killed for its ivory every 15 minutes. An African rhino dies for its horn every eight hours. At last count, there are fewer than 400,000 elephants and 18,000 rhinos left in the wild in Africa.

These iconic animals, as well as many more critically endangered species such as lions and pangolins, are targeted by international criminal networks for their highly lucrative body parts. If the slaughter is permitted to continue at present rates, these species will be extinct within a generation.

Wildlife trafficking threatens global ecosystems and the geopolitical stability of the African continent. Smuggling operations are elaborate and abetted by corruption. Profits accrued by the illicit sale of ivory and rhino horn are in the billions, funding criminal syndicates and threatening national and international security. Some profits from the sale of ivory from poached elephants are used to fund terrorist groups.

The chain of criminality and corruption that is killing these animals will also kill civil society and civilizations. Only the power and will of enlightened governments can break this chain.

Declaration of Demands
We ask that your government recognize this growing global movement and the right of people everywhere in the world to have a say in what happens to our collective natural heritage. Wildlife trafficking must end — all that is required is an act of political will.

Specifically, we call on your government to:

1. Apply pressure on the government of China to supply the world with a timeline for the implementation of its May 2015 announced intention of “eventually” ceasing the ivory trade: to close the ivory carving factories and the State-sponsored ivory retail shops; to destroy its stockpiles of ivory; to confiscate all ivory imports; and to impose the strictest penalties on any citizens found to be involved in the illegal trade of ivory or rhino horn.

2. Lobby CoP17 for the following measures: A. Amend rule 25 to eliminate secret ballots unrelated to election of CITES officers; B.Reclassify African elephants as two species, the Savanna Elephant and the Forest Elephant, with both in APPENDIX 1 across the entire continent; C. Denial of any petitions to legalize the trade of rhino horn in South Africa and elsewhere; D. Stop the export of rhinos to non-indigenous locales; E. Halt the capture of and trade in baby elephants and other species from the countries of origin to other nations, irrespective of their status on CITES Appendices; F. End the import/export of trophies; G. Add Rhinos, Savanna Elephants, Forest Elephants, Lions, and Pangolins to APPENDIX 1 to halt all hunting and trade of these creatures and/or their body parts and eliminate the exemptions.

3. Support the United States in its continuation of the State-level legislative processes as well as its tightening of federal departmental policies, and creating Executive Orders aimed at ending the trade in ivory and rhino horn within its own borders.

4. Implement a complete ban on international and domestic trade of all endangered wildlife body parts, including, but not limited to, ivory, rhino horn, pangolin, lion, and tiger bone.

5. Shut down all retail outlets for ivory and rhino horn products and terminate all industries associated with these.

6. Adopt more stringent legislation to deter, combat, and punish wildlife crime.

7. Address the systemic corruption linking governmental representatives to criminal enterprises involved in wildlife trafficking by investigating improprieties by elected officials, police, park rangers, and port authorities; by prosecuting traders of poached ivory and rhino horn without exception and to the fullest extent of the law; and adopting and amending  legislation further criminalizing governmental corruption.

8. Engage and cooperate with other governments in anti-wildlife trafficking actions.

9. Ensure wildlife trafficking is identified as a serious crime as within the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), as called for in Resolution 2013/40 of the UN Economic Council.

10. Support adoption of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly against countries in violation of intergovernmental agreements as adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

It is our preference that all stockpiles of endangered wildlife products are verifiably destroyed.

On 24 September 2016, people in more than 100 cities around the world will march against the illegal wildlife trade and call on their governments to take action to end poaching and the trade in ivory and rhino horn.

We ask you to show wisdom and leadership, by acknowledging this vital cause and helping to stop illegal wildlife trade once and for all.

Proposed Legislative Amendments – South Africa

Demand for Proposed amendments to South African legislation to combat rhino poaching AND CRIMES INVOLVING THREATENED OR PROTECTED SPECIES

1. REQUEST FOR AMENDMENT TO LEGISLATION

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is hereby urgently requested to intervene in the rhino poaching crisis by amending relevant legislation that governs the bail applications and the prescribed sentence for the crime of contravening Section 57(1) of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 – Restricted activity with a threatened or protected species.

Rhino poaching and the trade in rhino horn has escalated to such an extent that positive action from the South African Government on the highest political level is necessary and justified before an entire species becomes extinct.

With the current legislation rhino poachers are easily released on bail and the lenient sentences imposed make their criminal efforts well worth their while. The risk of being caught is low and the risk of being imposed a sentence of long term imprisonment is equally low.

In similar circumstances in the past when serious and violent crimes escalated, the legislature responded with the promulgation of the Criminal Law Amendment Act No. 105 of 1997 which came into operation on 31 December 2007.

In light of the high prevalence of crimes such as armed robberies, hi-jacking, rape and murder the legislature deemed it fit to promulgate the Act, commonly referred to as “The Minimum Sentences Act” to visit such crimes with prescribed minimum sentences of long term imprisonment.

The effect of the amendment was profound since Magistrates and Judges, after the amendment, did not have an unfettered discretion to impose just any sentence for these crimes as they did in the past. Section 51(3)(a) of the Act further requires that if any court is satisfied that substantial and compelling circumstances exist which justify the imposition of a lesser sentence than the prescribed sentence, it shall enter those circumstances on the record of proceedings and may thereupon impose such lesser sentence.

Therefore similar intervention is requested for restricted activities involving threatened or protected species.  If the law is strengthened in this regard then the hand of the courts and prosecution will as a necessary result also be stronger to deal with these types of offenses in a more satisfactorily manner.

2. PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

Two proposals are made that would have an impact on curbing poaching and they are the following:

1. Amendment to Part II of Schedule 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997 to prescribe a minimum sentence of 15 (FIFTEEN) years imprisonment applicable to the crime of contravening Section 57(1) of the National Environmental: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 when the crime involves rhinoceros or elephant, or other threatened or protected species where the value in question involves amounts of R100 000 or more; and

2. Amendment to Schedule 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 to include the offense of contravening Section 57(1) of the National Environmental: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 where rhinoceros or elephant are involved, or the value of the threatened or protected species in question involves amounts of R100 000 or more, as a Schedule 5 offense.

3. AMENDMENT TO THE CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT NO. 105 OF 1997

It is recommended that the legislature enacts a prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for carrying out a restricted activity with a threatened or protected species where it is proved that a rhinoceros or elephant is involved; or where the value of the threatened or protected species in question involves amounts of R100 000 or more.

There is no substantive offense in South African Law that prohibits “rhino poaching” in its own right.  To hunt a rhino illegally, or any threatened or protected species is prohibited in terms of Section 57(1) of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004.  The offense is referred to as: “Restricted activity involving a listed threatened or protected species”.  Therefore any reference to “rhino poaching” henceforth must be taken to mean a contravention of this section as well as to include offenses with other high value threatened or protected species.

The description of the offense is the following:

Section 57(1): A person may not carry out a restricted activity involving a listed specimen of a threatened or protected species without a permit issued in terms of Chapter 7.

The prescribed penalty is a fine not exceeding R10 million, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Rhino poaching is committed by armed and dangerous criminal groups and the manner in which the offense is committed can be likened to Robbery with aggravating circumstances which resorts under Part II of Schedule 2 for which the minimum sentence is 15 years imprisonment for a first offender.

Taking into account that the value of one rhino is over R100 000 then poaching a rhino is effectively also permanently removing ownership of it as in the case of theft.

The “Minimum Sentences Act 105 of 1997 prescribes a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment in cases of theft –

•    involving amounts of more than R500 000;
•    or involving amounts of more than R100 000, if it is proved that the of offense was committed by a person, group of persons, syndicate or any enterprise acting in the execution or furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy; then the crime falls under Part II of Schedule 2 of the Act.

Based on the value of the commodity involved rhino poaching qualifies to be listed on Part II of Schedule 2 of the Minimum Sentence Act 105 of 1997.

Although crimes involving other threatened or protected species with a much lower value than rhino are also prosecuted under the same Section 57(1), it would be ludicrous to make the minimum sentence applicable to all species.  It is recommended that the amendment should be qualified to apply to crimes involving rhinoceros and elephant and any threatened or protected species where it is proved that a value of R100 000 or more is involved.

The suggested amendment is therefor to Part II of Schedule 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997 with the addition of the following offense to the list and to read as follows:

Any offense referred to in section 57(1) of the National Environmental     Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004, if it is proved that-

(a)    the listed threatened or protected species involved is a
rhinoceros or elephant; or

(b)    the value of the listed threatened or protected species or product
or derivative in question involves amounts of more than
R100 000; or

(c)    the value of the listed threatened or protected species or product
or derivative in question involves amounts of more than R10 000;
if it is alleged that the offense was committed by a person, group
of persons, syndicate or any enterprise acting in the execution or
furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy; or

(d)    if it is alleged that the offense was committed by any law enforcement officer-
(i)    involving amounts of more than R10 000,00; or
(ii)    as a member of a group of persons, syndicate or
any enterprise acting in the execution or
furtherance of a common purpose

4.  AMENDMENT TO SCHEDULE 5 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ACT 51 OF 1977

Section 60(1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 states:

“An accused who is in custody in respect of an offense shall, subject to the provisions of section 50 (6), be entitled to be released on bail at any stage preceding his or her conviction in respect of such offense, if the court is satisfied that the interests of justice so permit.”

The accused is therefore entitled to be released on bail in respect of any offense unless the offense is listed on Schedule 5 or 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

Section 60(11)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 provides the following:

“Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, where an accused is charged with an offense referred to-

(b)    in Schedule 5, but not in Schedule 6, the court shall order that the accused be detained in custody until he or she is dealt with in accordance with the law, unless the accused, having been given a reasonable opportunity to do so, adduces evidence which satisfies the court that the interests of justice permit his or her release.

It is a deeply entrenched fundamental right that every person is innocent until proven guilty and therefore the purpose of bail proceedings are not to punish the accused in advance for a crime he has not yet been convicted of, but to ensure that he stands his trial until finalization thereof.

One of the factors that impact on the high prevalence of rhino poaching is the lenient manner in which courts deal with rhino poachers especially with regard to bail proceedings.

Experience has illustrated that when an accused is released on bail the case takes much longer to finalize than when an accused is in custody during the trial.  An incarcerated accused is much more eager for the trial to proceed and reach its finality without delay.  However for an accused person who is released on bail there is just no urgency to finalize the matter as speedily as possible since his life goes on in all respects.  In fact the longer the case is dragged out the better for the accused since witnesses lose interest, the media loses interest and evidence and witnesses could even disappear.

Therefore if changes are made to the legislation governing bail proceedings the court would have no choice but to deal with the offense in the same manner as it does with the more serious offenses listed on Schedule 5.

If Section 57(1) of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 is listed on Schedule 5 the onus shifts to the accused to prove that his release is permitted in the interests of justice.

The proposed amendment to Schedule 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 to read as follows:

Any offense referred to in section 57(1) of the National Environmental     Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004, if it is proved that-

(a)    the listed threatened or protected species involved is a
rhinoceros or elephant; or

(b)      the value of the listed threatened or protected species or product
or derivative in question involves amounts of more than
R100 000; or

(c)      the value of the listed threatened or protected species or product
derivative in question involves amounts of more than R10 000; if
it is alleged that the offense was committed by a person, group
of persons, syndicate or any enterprise acting in the execution or
furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy; or

(d)    if it is alleged that the offense was committed by any law enforcement officer-
(i)    involving amounts of more than R10 000,00; or
(ii)    as a member of a group of persons, syndicate or
any enterprise acting in the execution or
furtherance of a common purpose

5.    CONCLUSION

It is commonly accepted that rhino poaching is a crime committed by organized criminal syndicates who act in the furtherance of a common purpose.  Law enforcement up until now has failed dismally to detect and curb the poaching in South Africa.  When arrested poachers are released on bail and sentences imposed are highly unsatisfactory.  Therefore it is submitted that the proposed changes to legislation will go a long way in sending the message to poachers that if they are apprehended and prosecuted they will be dealt with harshly in the circumstances.

The time has come to enact a prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for a restricted activity involving a rhinoceros, elephant or any threatened or protected species with a value of R100 000 or more and to categorize the offense under Schedule 5 for the purposes of bail applications in order to reflect the seriousness of the offense and to strengthen the hand of the prosecution and the court when dealing with such offenses. It is also strongly recommended that a person found guilty of the illegal killing of a rhinoceros or elephant should be penalized to refund the owner of such killed rhinoceros or elephant at market related prices.

CoP17 Demands

1. Address lack of transparency
We request an amendment to Rule 25 (Methods of Voting) to eliminate secret ballots that are unrelated to the election of officers. Each voting party should be accountable to the people of the country it represents. This is impossible to achieve if there is no public record on how delegates vote on specific issues. Furthermore, it will be extremely difficult to pass important proposals and reclassifications of species, species threatened with extinction and in need of strong protection, without a transparent voting system.

2. Reclassify African elephants as two species, list both species in Appendix I
The African elephant should be reclassified as two species. Research confirms that ‘Savannah’ and ‘Forest’ elephants are separate species. Both are threatened by unchecked habitat destruction and poaching. Both species, along with the Asian elephant, should be listed in Appendix 1, irrespective of country or origin; the kidnapping of young elephants from Zimbabwe and their transport to amusement parks in China (in 2014/2015) is the result of elephants not being on Appendix 1 in ALL nations in Africa.

3. Immediate ban on global ivory trade with no exceptions
An unequivocal and complete ban on the global ivory trade should be adopted immediately without exception. “One off” sales of ivory stockpiles have led to a thriving market in ivory and an escalation of poaching, leaving iconic species under threat of extinction within a generation.

4. Stop export of rhinos to non-indigenous locales
Rhinos should not be shipped to non-indigenous locales (such as Texas) as part of a large-scale relocation project and under the guise of conservation. The world should not entrust the fate of rhinos to the state of Texas or any other state or nation.

5. CITES should STRONGLY advocate against the dehorning of rhinos and be swift to deny ANY petition lobbying the parties to legalize the trade in rhino horn in South Africa and elsewhere
Historic evidence points to legalized trade being disastrous for iconic species, particularly elephants and rhinos. Common sense dictates that the current population of rhinos will not survive the growing demand for rhino horn from China, Vietnam and other nations. All efforts to legalize trade should be (emphatically) denied.

6. Halt the capture and export of baby elephants and other species from their countries of origin to other nations, irrespective of their status on CITES’ Appendices
Elephants and other threatened and endangered species (such as lions, rhinos and leopards) should not be captured and shipped to countries to live out their lives in captivity in amusement parks and/or zoos. The enterprise is unethical and amoral, particularly given the context of extinction and population depletion.

7. Act to end the farming of lions in South Africa and the import/export of lion trophies
Lions must be listed on Appendix 1. The practice of permitting the export/import of trophy hunted lions (particularly, those who are victims of canned hunting) is a gruesome testament to an amoral practice that is reflective of the commodification of nature.

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