South Africa’s Rhino Horn Stockpiles: Integral to Illegal Trade

Stephen Wiggins Studies Leave a Comment

South Africa’s Rhino Horn Stockpiles: Integral to Illegal Trade – What Next for South African Rhino,” EMS Foundation Report 2024

Conclusions and Recommendations

“Instead of destroying the rhino horn after removal, South Africa has chosen to continue the risk to the diminishing surviving rhino population by driving the perception that the horn has value and stockpiling it, so they say, under strict regulations and security. It has taken this view despite the evidence that South Africa has failed to secure the removed rhino horn in stockpiles and cannot safeguard rhino horn from being trafficked and entering the illegal market.

  •  It is inevitable that rhino horns from stockpiles will flow into the international illegal trade. Stockpiling and the legal domestic trade simply provide a laundering channel for illegally traded horn. Moreover, the dark web of interaction between criminal syndicates, elites and private traders suggests that holding massive rhino horn stockpiles can only lead to further criminality that undermines rhino protection and conservation. South Africa is therefore, de facto, perpetuating the black-market trade of rhino horn. South Africa is not capable of preventing leakage from the stockpiles into the illegal trade.
  • South Africa must abandon the idea of trading in rhino horn and encourage other Range States to do the same.
  •  The future of wild life, nature and our own human existence is literally under threat. What is needed is an urgent and total overhaul of policy and legislation and a totally different way of viewing wild life and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity.


  • Rather than banking on the extinction of rhinos, South Africa must embrace rhino horn stockpile destruction as an anti-poaching, anti-trafficking, and demand reduction tool to meaningfully contribute to the ethical protection of rhino populations in Africa and Asia and to mitigate their extinction. Doing so will send a strong signal that South Africa is firmly committed to preserving and protecting rhinos, and to truly ensuring their welfare and well-being. 
  • By virtue of the precautionary approach, South Africa, and other CITES States Parties must act in the best interest of the conservation of the species and urgently uplist rhinos currently on Appendix II to Appendix I.

Further Reading

Let it burn, says animal welfare NGO about South Africa’s 75-tonne rhino horn stockpile,” Daily Maverick, 19 March 2024

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