For Immediate Release
April 29, 2016
Mike Harris, director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791;
Jennifer Best, associate director, Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791;

FoA denounces Swaziland’s attempt to sell rhino horns following the sale of 17 elephants to American zoos

Friends of Animals is disturbed by the news that Swaziland has made a surprise proposal to legalise the trade in rhino horn less than a week after South Africa abandoned a similar proposal.

“Swaziland and Ted Reilly, royal advisor on wildlife to the Kingdom of Swaziland and founder of Big Game Parks Trust, have a history of using wildlife as commodities, so it is no surprise to learn about this proposal to sell off the country’s rhino horn,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law program.

“There is little doubt that the recent selling of 17 Swaziland elephants to three U.S. zoos—Dallas, Omaha and Wichita zoos—will help fund this endeavor. The collaboration between the zoos and Reilly—which they have called Room for Rhinos—helped Swaziland to sell off the elephants and will now help it increase rhino horn production. Regardless of whether the zoos knew Reilly was working on this proposal, they should be embarrassed now for having helped contribute toward it and for being his partner.”

In a document addressed to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), Swaziland’s anti-poaching body said it wanted to sell the country’s 330kg stockpile of horn collected from naturally deceased animals and confiscated from poachers. It claims the sale to the traditional medicine markets of the Far East would generate $9.9 million, which would be used to protect the 73 white rhinos in two parks from poaching.

Swaziland also proposed to sell a further 20kg each year, raising $600,000, by taking horn from living herds, claiming the funds would help to pay game rangers better wages and defray the costs of the necessary infrastructure and equipment to keep its rhino parks functioning.

Knowing that Swaziland’s disregard for its wildlife could set a precedent for other African countries to profit off their wild elephants, FoA remains steadfast in preventing transfers of African elephants to American zoos in the future.