South Africa’s top court has ruled in favor of allowing domestic trade in rhino horns, WildAid has learned. Since 2009, a government-backed moratorium had been in place preventing the sale of horns within the country.
A legal challenge was brought against the moratorium by private ranchers who own large populations of the animals, and who are believed to be stockpiling horns in hopes of selling them commercially. WildAid is concerned that legalizing domestic rhino horn trade opens the door to additional illegal horn exports.
“There is no domestic demand for rhino horn products and, as the pro-trade lobby very well knows, the reason why the moratorium was implemented in the first place was to prevent domestic trade from being used as a cover for smuggling," said Susie Watts of WildAid's Africa Program.
JOHANNESBURG (May 4, 2016) – Prominent South African celebrities have come together to launch a campaign for decisive action to solve the rhino poaching crisis that the nation has grappled with since 2008.
The campaign features well-known South African personalities such as DJ Fresh, Springbok rugby player Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, comedian Marc Lottering, actress Masasa Mbangeni, DJ Poppy Ntshongwana, Super Rugby players Siya Kolisi, Scarra Ntubeni and Joe Pietersen and model-entrepreneur Maps Maponyane, many of whom visited the bush to see wild rhinos for the first time as part of the campaign.
“There’s a common belief in conservation and government circles that only wealthier, white people are concerned with rhino and the future of wildlife, but our research shows that conservation is strongly supported by people of all races and incomes," said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. "Conservation is a unifying issue in an often deeply divided country. You don’t need money to care about wildlife; your voice matters, too.”
CAPE TOWN (April 21, 2016) — After months of speculation, South African officials said Thursday that they will not submit a proposal to legalize trade in rhinoceros horn to the 17th Conference of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to be hosted in Johannesburg in September.
Judge Francis Legodi of the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday set aside a moratorium on the in-country rhino horn trade, causing consternation in conservation circles worldwide. Two prominent wildlife farmers (including John Hume, the world’s largest rhino owner) had applied to the court to overturn the moratorium, which they claimed was irrational, unreasonable and a violation of their constitutional rights.
The moratorium was imposed in 2009 by the environment ministry because of its view that the domestic trade was providing a loophole through which poached horn was flowing into international trafficking networks. Supporters of the moratorium argue that because there is no substantive consumer market for rhino horn in South Africa, there is little incentive for South Africans to trade horn unless it is ultimately being sold on highly profitable Asian black markets.
Judge Legodi set aside the moratorium because of procedural errors made by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) just prior to it coming into effect and not because he agrees with the wildlife farmers’ substantive arguments regarding the rationality, reasonableness and constitutionality of the moratorium.
In crude terms, the judge struck down the moratorium on technicalities, not because he found the rhino farmers’ core arguments to be valid.
Poachers killed a record number of rhinos in South Africa last year, according to government figures released Thursday (January 22). A total of 1,215 rhinos were poached in 2014 — ten times the number killed in 2009. During the first three weeks of 2015, 49 rhinos have already been poached in South Africa.
Although rhinos were recovering in Africa since 1993, increasing demand across China and Vietnam in recent years is reversing that trend. Belief in its purported health benefits, including treatment for cancer, fever reduction and other health problems, remains relatively high in Vietnam, despite the fact that rhino horn is composed of compressed hair and keratin, the same protein found in fingernails.