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Six thousand rhinos have fallen to poachers’ bullets in Africa over the past decade and only about 25,000 remain – a fraction of the tens of thousands that roamed parts of the continent fifty years ago.

Driven by seemingly insatiable demand in Southeast Asia and China, rhino horn has become a black market commodity rivalling gold and platinum in value.

Fragmented law enforcement strategies – often led by environmental agencies with little political power and no mandate to investigate or gather intelligence on organised crime networks – have had little impact on syndicates that operate globally, with tentacles reaching from Africa to Europe, the United States and Asia.

Borders, bureaucracy and a tangle of vastly different laws and legal jurisdictions are a boon to ruthless transnational criminal networks and a bane to the law enforcement agencies rallied against them.


The Global Initiative organised a CITES CoP17 side event in Johannesburg on 25 September 2016.

In this side-event, Julian Rademeyer, a senior research fellow with the Global Initiative for Transnational Organised Crime and author of the book Killing for Profit – Exposing the illegal rhino horn trade, presented an overview of recent investigations and research conducted by the Global Initiative into the illicit supply chain and law enforcement strategies.

Dr Lyle Pienaar, a senior South African intelligence analyst specialising in issues of national security and transnational organised crime, presented a strategic overview of new efforts in South Africa to combat rhino poaching, horn trafficking and transnational criminal networks. He has played a lead role in drafting the country’s new National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT). Pienaar holds a Doctorate in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Security Studies.

The event was be chaired by Peter Gastrow, a senior adviser to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Gastrow recently served on a government committee of inquiry examining rhino horn trade. A former MP, he was a special adviser to the Minister of Safety and Security following South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. He has been part of a number of UN expert groups and was involved in the negotiation process which led to the adoption of the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime.

For further information, please contact Iris Oustinoff of the Global Initiative Secretariat: