South Africa court rules for rhino horn trade

In the wake of the court ruling, the South African government is waiting on the results of an independent review on whether it should propose regulated rhino horn trade at CITES next year. PHOTO © Dan Balfour.Rhino breeders 1: rhinos 0

Last week’s South African High Court ruling to allow for the domestic trade in rhino horn sees rhinos losing out to commercial exploitation interests in the game for their survival.

While this is all part of the pro-trade lobby's campaign to get the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to reopen a legal trade in horn at next year’s 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP), it sets yet another dangerous precedent in South Africa law favoring commercial interests over conservation and animal welfare.  Stricter domestic measures would not allow South Africa to petition CITES for legalised international trade, hence the push to lift the domestic ban.

The South African government is awaiting the outcome of an independent review of whether they should proceed with a proposal to CITES CoP17 to allow regulated trade in rhino horn. The review is due out in December.

Given the continuing escalation in poaching and illicit trade, as well as very little knowledge on market dynamics and how regulated trade could effect such, it seems absurd that a pro-trade recommendation would be forthcoming.

It would not only fly in the face of the precautionary principle, but would trump political and commercial interests over conservation ones.

But, stranger things have happened.

The score line is now in the hands of the South African Ministry of Environmental Affairs. Let's hope the rhinos can make a comeback. 


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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