Update: “Confirmed: No Rhino Horn Trade Proposal from South Africa at CITES CoP17,” Annamiticus, 25 April 2016
It is being reported by Reuters Africa, that South Africa has decided against ‘legalising’ rhino horn harvesting. But, stockpiling will continue at the farms where rhino horn has been harvested from (anesthetised) rhino.
The reason for the suggestion decision (announced to Reuters by an unnamed cabinet minister), is not given and of course, ‘the decision’ may well turn out to be different. This is a concern, because the South African Minister for Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa recently appeared to have pre-empted the decision of the ‘Committee of Inquiry’ into the potential rhino horn trade from farmed rhino, with an announcement in the Department of Environmental Affairs 2016 Budget Document:
“The projected increased expenditure in the Administration programme and the Biodiversity and Conservation programme over the medium term is for the department to host the 17th conference of the parties (COP 17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in September and October 2016. South Africa will submit its rhino horn trade proposal at CITES COP 17. The proposal aims to reduce rhino poaching, as it promotes the legal selling of rhino horn. If this were implemented, the sales could generate significant revenue to supplement conservation funding” – Estimates of National Expenditure, 24 February 2016, page 3
So, we’ll have to wait and see…….
Related Articles and comemnts:
“Commoditisation of Rhino Horn Trade ‘Self-Approved’ in South Africa,” IWB, 30 November 2015
NSPCA statement (November 2015):
“We fear that if the judgment stands, a further consequence will be our rhino will become farmed animals. Unethical practices may be used to increase profits, which are likely to include confining animals to the smallest spaces possible, feeding animals unnatural diets, and physically altering or maiming animals to prevent them from injuring one another when confined in limited spaces.”
“Above all, rhinos are wild animals. Captivity, confinement and manipulation are foreign and stressful to them”.
Could the farming of rhino horn help reduce poaching? The NSPCA think not:
“South Africa cannot control the domestic trade or prevent it from leaking on to the international market and facilitated horn laundering. Legalising domestic trade will undoubtedly allow operations at lower costs, yet this trade is not sustainable and is unlikely to reduce poaching. The risk is the legal trade will stimulate demand and increase poaching.”
The Born Free Foundation also thinks that this move will increase demand and poaching, not reduce it.
Debunking the myth that a legal trade will solve the rhino horn crisis: A system dynamics model for market demand, October 2015 – “We find that a legal trade will increase profitability, but not the conservation of rhino populations” – By Douglas J. Crookes, James N. Blignaut , Journal for Nature Conservation.