Monday, 5 September 2011
SA eyes lifting of rhino horn ban
South Africa has taken the first step on the long and controversial road to lifting the world ban on rhino horn trading.
The ban has been in place for more than 30 years.
Last month, the Department of Environmental Affairs placed two advertisements on its tenders website to initiate a series of studies that could pave the way for a resumption of controlled rhino-horn trading.
The studies will include a detailed assessment of whether there are “options and opportunities available to South Africa to access a legal market”.
A separate study will look into the feasibility of dehorning thousands of rhinos as a way of saving them from poachers’ bullets.
Department spokesman Albi Modise said yesterday no decisions had been taken on the question of trading horns internationally, and the preliminary studies were to guide future decision-making on “various options” to safeguard the country’s rhino population.
International trade in rhino horns was banned in 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) after a wave of poaching threatened to decimate rhino populations in Africa and the Far East.
South Africa, which still allows trophy hunting under a permit system, also imposed a moratorium on the domestic sale of rhino products and horns in 2009.
This followed an upsurge in rhino poaching in this country in recent years.
Fed by international criminal syndicates chasing sky-high profits, the black market demand for horns has reached the point where more rhinos were killed in South Africa last year than the combined total over the previous decade.
Earlier this week, Environment Minister Edna Molewa said she was considering imposing a moratorium on rhino hunting because of the abuse of rhino trophy-hunting permits.
As the death toll continues to climb, there have been several calls to reopen the debate on whether the international Cites trade ban remains an effective tool to combat unscrupulous and well-organised crime syndicates. - The Starhttp://www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/environment/sa-eyes-lifting-of-rhino-horn-ban-1.1130604