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South Africa May Legalize Rhino Horn Trade

South Africa May Legalize Rhino Horn Trade

South Africa is facing its seventh consecutive yearly increase in rhino poaching and an unusual proposal for tacking the issue has come to light: legalizing the rhino horn trade.

A rhino's horn is made of keratin — the same material in our hair and nails — and is highly valuable in Asia, purportedly for its medicinal properties.

"We've tried everything else," says Pelham Jones, now head of the Private Rhino Owners Association, speaking about legalizing the trade. "From more guns to more boots to more cameras to more surveillance systems — but the poachers are always one step ahead of us."

Legalization might also send mixed messages to end-users of the horns, whose beliefs and behaviors conservationists are trying to change.

Buying and selling of the animal's horn was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1977, but domestic trade has continued in South Africa for decades, says the AFP. A sudden increase in poaching was seen in 2008, and the following year the South African government issued an embargo on domestic trade.

According to Le Monde, 2014 will be the most deadly year for the species — official figures show that between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, 979 animals had been poached, compared to 1,004 for the entirety of 2013. If the pace continues in this country, home to 82% of the world's rhino population, in just a few years the mortality rate will surpass the birth rate.

While poachers are arrested and convicted, added the French daily, it is not always easy to prove their guilt in court. The previous conviction was in July, when a man was found guilty of killing three rhinos at Kruger National Park and sentenced to 77 years in prison.

Read more from the AFP here.

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Muslim Call To Prayer, NYC-Style: A Turkish Eye On New York's Historic Azan Law

New York Mayor Eric Adams has for the first time allowed the city's mosques to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers. A Turkish correspondent living in New York listens in to the sound of the call ("cleaner" than in Turkey), and the voices of local Muslims marking this watershed in their relationship with the city.

Photo of a man walking into a mosque in NYC

Mosque in NYC

Ali Tufan Koç

NEW YORK — It’s Sept. 1, nearing the time for the noon prayer for Muslim New Yorkers. The setting is the Masjid Al Aman, one of the city's biggest mosques, located at the border of the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. WABC, Channel 7, one of the local television stations, has a broadcast van parked at the corner. There are a few more camera people and journalists milling around. The tension is “not normal,” and residents of the neighborhood ask around what’s happening.

This neighborhood, extending from East New York to Ozone Park, is not the Brooklyn that you see in the movies, TV shows or novels. Remove the pizza parlors, dollar stores and the health clinics, and the rest is like the Republic of Muslim brothers and sisters. There are over 2,000 people from Bangladesh in East New York alone. There’s the largest halal supermarket of the neighborhood one block away from the mosque: Abdullah Supermarket. The most lively dining spot is the Brooklyn Halal Grill. Instead of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, there's a Medina Fried Chicken.

The congregation of the mosque, ABC 7, a clueless non-Muslim crowd and I are witnessing a first in New York history: The azan, the traditional Muslim public call to prayer, is being played at the outside of the mosque via speakers — without the need for special permission from the city. Yes, the azan is echoing in the streets of New York for the first time.

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