Update on Domestic Rhino Horn Trade in South Africa

Opinions on the domestic rhino horn trade legalization in South Africa continue to make headlines as legal auctions commence.

The breeder with the largest number of rhinos, John Hume, legally obtained permits to hold the first online horn auction in late August.

As the auction open date approached, Hume had to involve the higher courts when the Department of Environmental Affairs refused to present the official permits that he had been granted.

Although the permits came with specific conditions and a delayed start date, the first online auction of 500kg of rhino horn was open from August 23-25 with an unofficial profit of around $10,000/kg.

The divide between the supporters and opponents of the trade has led to confusing reviews of the auction and the future demand of the domestic trade. Domestically, the clash between the higher courts of the government and the Department of Environmental Affairs makes residents unclear on the issue and, internationally, organizations are making strong opposition statements such as the rhino horn burning in protest at a Czech zoo.

While the success and meaning of the first auction are still being debated, plans for a second auction are already in the works. There were reports of the first in-person auction occurring on September 20.

The legalization of the domestic trade does not affect the international trade ban that has been in place since 1977, although PHASA believes that legalizing it again could be “one of the most effective, sustainable and ethical long-term solutions to safeguard the future of rhino populations.”

Sources: PHASA, ABC News, Constitutional Court of South Africa, eNCA: South Africa’s News Channel

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