White Rhino grazing at Monate Lodge

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Rhino hunting permits could be suspended

Johannesburg - The government may consider suspending the issuing of trophy-hunting permits to curb the increase in rhino killings by poachers, the environmental affairs department said on Wednesday.

The subject of a moratorium was broached at a meeting between Water and Environmental Affairs Minister
Edna Molewa and provincial environment MECs (Minmec), department spokesperson Albi Modise said.

"Minmec has recommended that a moratorium on hunting of rhinoceros be considered as a last resort, after all options have been explored."

A moratorium would be considered and implemented if there was a "clear abuse" or "absolute collapse" in any of the provincial licence permitting systems.

The other options that had been explored to close "loopholes" in the legal framework included a proposed amendment to the norms and standards governing the hunting of the animal under the Biodiversity Act.

The amendment stipulates, among others, that hunting can take place only under the supervision of a conservation official or environment management inspector.

It allows the permit-issuing authority to postpone decisions relating to applications if any applicant is under investigation for contravention of the act.

Should the above measures not succeed in curbing the problem, the moratorium would be put in place.

Modise said a dehorning impact study had been initiated and would be concluded within the next two months.

Another two studies - a feasibility study to determine the viability of legalising trade in rhino horn in South Africa, and a global competitive market research assessment study - were also in the pipeline.

Since January, a total of 324 rhino had been poached and 186 people arrested in connection with rhino poaching.

This figure included two white rhino killed by poachers in the Kruger National Park on Tuesday. Both were shot in the head, but only one front horn was removed.

At the end of 2010, South Africa had conserved approximately 46% of Africa's black rhino in the wild and 93.2% of the continent's white rhino.

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