So you want to sell rhino horn?

Andrew Blackmore¹, Melissa Lewis²

1Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, P O Box 13053, Cascades, 3202

²School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, King George V Ave, Durban 4001

As South Africa prepares a motion to be presented at CITES COP 16 to legalise the commercial selling of rhino horn on the international markets as a means to regulate and reduce illegal trade and the poaching pressures on our rhinos, one has to be mindful of both the international hurdles to the proposal’s success and the extent to which domestic laws in South Africa and the relevant countries of import are ready to accommodate such trade.
South Africa’s population of white rhinos is already listed on CITES Appendix II. However, the scope of this listing is currently restricted to international trade in live animals and hunting trophies, and would have to be amended before the trade in rhino horn will be permissible.
Insofar as domestic laws are concerned, CITES only legally obliges Parties to regulate the import and export of listed-species. The COP has, however, additionally urged Parties to adopt and implement internal trade restrictions and penalties concerning rhinoceros parts and derivatives. While such measures have been taken in South Africa, our framework biodiversity legislation itself presents no impediment to the trade of rhino horn, since it gives the Minister the discretion to grant authority to trade in products derived from threatened or protected species.
Following growing international pressure, stricter legislation, wildlife trade controls and penalties have also been introduced in a number of countries in the east, including key destination countries, such as Vietnam and China. Should South Africa’s COP16 proposal be successful, it would naturally be desirable for the relevant domestic legislation to be amended to remove the criminalisation of horn trade, while still providing a suitable regulatory framework to prevent the legal horn trade from becoming a conduit for illegally sourced horn.
This presentation provides an overview of the legal challenges that will be faced in establishing a legal international trade in rhino horn in terms of both international law and the domestic laws of South Africa and the major importing states.

Presentation Topic

So you want to sell rhino horn?


Contact Mr Blackmore:

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, P O Box 13053, Cascades, 3202


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