Locally, the call to legalise rhino horn to combat its illicit trade on the black market has been growing over the last few years.
The rampant increase in poaching has left authorities willing to consider their options with the latest figures at 446 rhino poached in South Africa this year already.
Prominent conservationist Ian Player has for a number of years now been asking the government to lobby the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to legalise sale in rhino horn.
South Africa’s horn stock piles could then be told, the proceeds of which could then go towards greater protection of the rhino specie that would now have a commoditised price. Player believe this will effectively flood the black market and drive down the price, taking power out of the hands of the syndicates and creating one centrally controlled point of sale of rhino horn.
It’s a controversial subject, with about as many for the unbanning as those opposed to it. The Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) believes that legalising rhino horn would be tantamount to telling the Vietnamese what so many of them want to hear due to a lack of medical options. “Yes, you can now legally purchase and take rhino horn for your cancer or other ailment,” said Newman.
The EIA said that similar calls were made at a time when elephant poaching was at its highest. Much the same case was advanced in favour of allowing CITES-sanctioned ivory stockpile auctions to go ahead, undermining the 1989 ivory trade ban.
“And if the evidence of rocketing levels of elephant slaughter in recent years isn’t sufficient indication of the failure of this strategy, the evidence against it mounted even further recently when the Chinese media reported the conviction of a government-accredited ivory trader in Fujian and his accomplices for their role in an international ivory trafficking scheme that smuggled nearly eight tonnes of ivory out of Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria,” said the EIA.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa will this morning provide details on a possible rhino horn trade proposal with CITES. For the latest from the press briefing, follow @themikeappel on Twitter.
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