Save the environment and fight poverty: Molewa

05 March 2013 - 15:30 By Sapa
Edna Molewa. File picture.
Edna Molewa. File picture.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa believes the fight against poverty should be part of the battle against poaching, the department said

This would help eliminate the incentive to poach, as many of those involved were from poor communities, she told an International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, according to her department.

She said other issues facing Southern Africa included the need to harmonise and align policy, operations, and cross-border enforcement of multinational parks.

Molewa said the establishment of cross-border conservation areas had not always been easy to manage, as the region was faced with an increase in wildlife crime.

The department said 2000 delegates from 178 countries were taking part in the convention, which was marking its 40th anniversary in Bangkok.

In the next two weeks, Cites would decide how to improve the wildlife trade regime, evaluate progress in ensuring threatened species survival and decide which species could be down-listed or up-listed on Cites' lists.

"Amongst the tabled proposals are those that include up-listing of the rhino due to poaching, from which key range states have suffered, including South Africa," the department said.

"This would have widespread implications for South Africa's white rhino population, including the creation of disincentives for the private sector."

Molewa met Chinese and Vietnamese officials on Sunday to discuss mutual co-operation in the field of bio-diversity, particularly the continued illegal trade in rhino horn.

All parties recommitted themselves to ensuring a discussion on restricted trade would be considered at one of the next conventions.

A high-level Vietnamese delegation was expected to visit South Africa in April following the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the two countries in December.

The department said discussions with China focused on the completion of a memorandum of understanding to be signed in April.

The memorandum included dealing with illegal rhino hunting and would be followed by an implementation plan, similar to the agreement signed with Vietnam.