South Africa to lift ban on domestic trade in rhino horn

South Africa’s top court yesterday ruled in favour of lifting a government supported moratorium banning the domestic trade in rhino horn.  While an international ban in the trade of rhino horn remains in place, the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for one of the world’s most engaged species. This is especially critical as South Africa is home to the largest surviving rhino population in the world.

Commenting on the news DSWF CEO Oliver Smith said: “Where a legalised market, domestic or international, exists you will always find a black market, and most likely a far more voracious one as a result.  The step taken by the South African courts in lifting the domestic ban undermines efforts by international institutions and organisations to change a consumer mind set and legitimises the trade in, and consumption of rhino horn.

“The international community made it clear last year at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 17th Conference of the Parties, hosted in South Africa that trade in rhino horn was not acceptable or wanted, despite strong campaigns from the pro-trade lobby. At the time, South Africa made the decision not to submit a proposal to trade, which was widely applauded.  It seems now that their true intentions are sadly clear, and at the cost of a species.”

For most, this is not a simple discussion about a valuable commodity but one that has greater ethical implications including our moral obligation as one sentient being to another to fight for protection and survival, rather than to exploit them for human greed.

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Calf mourns the death of its mother at hands of poachers c.Margaret Hickman
Calf mourns the death of its mother at hands of poachers c.Margaret Hickman