More than fifty riders from H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) roared into Stellenbosch this morning to join hundreds of marchers in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, along with marchers and riders in 134 cities around the world.
Africa Geographic’s C.E.O Simon Espley and editor Anton Crone rode with the H.O.G. Cape Town chapter aboard a 1690cc beast kindly loaned by Harley Davidson in support of the cause. But the first order of duty before leaving Cape Town was to stop at the Chinese Consulate where Espley delivered a Memorandum of Demand addressed to the Consulate General.
Once the bikers arrived in Stellenbosch to meet the marchers, Francis Garrard of Conservation Action Trust addressed the crowd thanking everyone for making the effort to add their voice, and for H.O.G. Cape Town’s director Stuart Mailer and the riders for adding their growl. ‘China holds the key. We’ve got to get this message to the Chinese,” he said. “The Chinese must change their behaviour and the Chinese government can do it.”
Due to Chinese and Asian demand, it is estimated that an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. We are losing a rhino for its horn every 9 hours. There are fewer than 400,000 elephants and less than 18,000 rhinos left in the wild in Africa.
The riders growled through the Stellenbosch’s CBD followed by placard carrying marchers who’s numbers grew as students joined their ranks. More students added their voiced from dorm’ and lecture hall windows. It reminded us that the younger generation must take up this global call, and reach out to the youth of China, Vietnam and the rest of Asia – youngsters who’s perceptions are not jaded by ancient beliefs and braggarts who are decimating Africa’s Elephants and Rhinos.
Read the Memorandum of Demand delivered to the Chinese Consular General below these images of the Stellenbosch march.
MEMORANDUM OF DEMAND
It is estimated that an elephant is killed for its ivory every 15 minutes. We are losing a rhino for its horn every nine hours in Africa. There are fewer than 400,000 elephants and less than 18,000 rhinos left in the wild in Africa. Asian elephant numbers have plummeted to 25,000 individuals and fewer than 40 Javan rhinos, 300 Sumatran rhinos and 2,400 Indian rhinos remain in the wild.
All of these species, and many more critically endangered and threatened animals like lion, tiger and pangolin, are targeted by international wildlife criminals for their highly lucrative body parts; if the slaughter is permitted to continue at present rates, these species will be extinct within the next decade or less.
Increasingly, wildlife trafficking is threatening global ecosystems and the geopolitical stability of the African continent; smuggling operations by international criminal cartels and the scale of poaching has become an incomprehensible horror. Profits accrued by the illicit sale of ivory and rhino horn are in the billions; poaching is literally sponsoring terrorism and threatening national and international security.
This must stop. And with your government’s help and political will it can be stopped.
We ask that your government recognize the strength of our global movement and the right of people everywhere in the world to have a say in what happens to our collective natural heritage.
Specifically, we call on your government to:
1. Apply political will and leadership to put an end to wildlife trafficking;
2. Implement a complete ban on commercial international and domestic trade of all endangered wildlife body parts, including but not limited to ivory, rhino horn, pangolin, lion and tiger bone;
3. Shut down all retail outlets for ivory and rhino horn products and terminate all industries associated with these;
4. Adopt more stringent legislation to combat and deter criminal activities relating to wildlife crime as a matter of urgency;
5. Tackle corruption and money-laundering linked to illegal wildlife trafficking by investigating and halting corruption among government officials, police and park officials who protect the kingpins; arrest and prosecute the ivory and rhino horn kingpins to the fullest extent of the law without exception; and adopt or amend legislation to criminalize corruption that facilitates poaching and wildlife trafficking;
6. Adopt more punitive sentencing laws for wildlife traffickers and strengthen enforcement of laws associated with wildlife crime;
7. Lobby 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 Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
8. Engage other governments in relevant bilateral, regional and international mechanisms;
9. Publicly destroy all confiscated wildlife products and renounce the use of products from endangered and threatened species;
10. Adopt or amend legislation to criminalize poaching and wildlife trafficking and ensure such criminal offences 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;
11. Engage in international co-operation programs, including extradition and mutual legal assistance where criminal offences are transnational in nature;
12. Strengthen legal frameworks and facilitate strict law enforcement to assist in prosecution of wildlife traffickers and imposition of penalties that will act as proper deterrents to wildlife crime;
13. Strengthen law enforcement, cross-border and regional co-operation to protect populations of threatened or endangered species from poachers and illegal wildlife trafficking;
14. Apply pressure on the government of China to bring the trade in ivory and horn to an end; specifically, to close its ivory carving factories and stop issuing licenses for these establishments; to destroy its stockpiles of ivory and confiscate all ivory imports; and to impose the strictest penalties on Chinese citizens found in possession of or involved in the illegal trade of ivory and rhino horn.
On 4 October 2014 – World Animal Day – people in more than 113 cities across the world are marching in protest against the illegal wildlife trade and to call on their governments to take action to end poaching and the trade in ivory and rhino horn.
We ask you to show leadership, wisdom and foresight in acknowledging our cause and helping to stop illegal wildlife trade once and for all.