Rhinoceros Conservation and International Law: The Role of Wildlife Treaties in Averting Megaherbivore Extinction

21:2-3 Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, 2018, p. 146-189

45 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2018

See all articles by Bram Janssens

Bram Janssens

University of Applied Sciences Avans Fontys - Faculty of Law

Arie Trouwborst

Tilburg University - Department of European & International Public Law; Tilburg Sustainability Center

Date Written: November 26, 2018

Abstract

This review article assesses the relevance of international wildlife treaties for the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s five species of rhinoceros – white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), black rhino (Diceros bicornis), Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). The analysis covers global treaties like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Wetlands Convention, alongside various regional African treaties. Employing standard legal research methodology combined with relevant knowledge from the natural and social sciences, the focus of the review is both on past performance and future potential of the treaties involved. The outcomes of the analysis suggest that, despite pervasive compliance deficiencies which continue to curtail the effectiveness of the various treaties, the prospects of various rhinoceros populations may well have been (even) worse without some of these treaties. The comparative importance of the World Heritage Convention for the conservation of the three Asian rhino species is an example. The main threat to rhinoceroses – poaching driven by a demand for rhino horn in various Asian countries – is international in nature, and a substantial part of the analysis centers on the international community’s efforts to address this threat over the past four decades within the framework of CITES. A key recommendation flowing from this analysis is for CITES parties to seriously but critically explore alternatives to the current trade ban regime, including the option of a strictly controlled legal trade in rhino horn sourced from viable, sustainably managed populations.

Keywords: rhinoceros, CITES, world heritage convention, wildlife, international law, conservation, trade, rhino horn

Suggested Citation

Janssens, Bram and Trouwborst, Arie, Rhinoceros Conservation and International Law: The Role of Wildlife Treaties in Averting Megaherbivore Extinction (November 26, 2018). 21:2-3 Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, 2018, p. 146-189, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3290637

Bram Janssens

University of Applied Sciences Avans Fontys - Faculty of Law ( email )

Netherlands

Arie Trouwborst (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Department of European & International Public Law ( email )

Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Tilburg Sustainability Center ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, North Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

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