SA Govt Faces Legal Challenge to Open Domestic Rhino Horn Trade

SA Govt Faces Legal Challenge to Open Domestic Rhino Horn Trade
Friday, 12 June, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

Private rhino breeders go head to head with the South African Government on Monday, in a court case that seeks to lift the moratorium on domestic rhino trade.

The civil case is set down in the Pretoria High Court and has been brought by two of South Africa’s biggest rhino breeders. It will run between 15-19 June.

The South African Government is known to be consulting widely on whether or not to make a submission at the 2016 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) asking for the lifting of a ban on international trade on rhino horn however, without a similar easing of restrictions in the domestic market this is unlikely to be granted.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the challenge by the rhino breeders was disingenuous and not driven by any form of conservation motive.

“At a time when rhinoceros are being slaughtered at an unprecedented rate for their horns, this legal bid by a small group that stand to benefit directly from the international sale of rhino horn, should be condemned. This is not a challenge based on the need to conserve and protect rhino; that is a fallacious and disingenuous argument. It is a challenge driven purely by economic incentives and it is the rhino that will pay the ultimate price if the court rules in the favour of the applicants,” said Jason Bell, IFAW Director Southern Africa.

“We urge the Government to resist the court challenge with all its legal might, and trust the court’s judgement in coming down on the side of the rhino by rejecting the breeder’s bid.”

Last month the South African Government announced that rhino poaching during the first quarter of 2015 had outstripped the same period last year, with 393 rhinos poached countrywide between January and 31 April 2015. Of those 290 were killed in the Kruger National Park.

The poaching of rhinoceros is driven by demand for its horn in Asia, specifically Vietnam where it is mistakenly believed to have medicinal properties. Internationally CITES banned trade in rhino horn in 1977 but South Africa only placed a moratorium on domestic trade in 2009.

As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The organization has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Interpol, the first ever signed by Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme with an NGO. IFAW and Interpol have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.

The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people. The learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade


About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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