PRETORIA, Nov 28 (NNN-SABC)–The Department of Environmental Affairs says it is not totally opposed to legalised rhino horn trade in the country, but says it should be done within strict rules and regulations.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday ruled that a six-year ban on rhino horn trade be lifted. However, the department still intends appealing the High Court’s decision.
Environmental Affairs was harshly criticised by the court for failing to consult all stakeholders before it invoked the moratorium on rhino trade in February 2009.
The application was brought by two of the country’s largest rhino farmers.
While it intends to appeal the court’s decision the department is at the same time looking at means and measures that could lead to legalized trade in rhino horn.
“The minister will engage extensively with the MECs in charge of environment to ensure that the approach that we’re taking is an approach that all of us in SA, at national level, at provincial level are all comfortable with and should it get to the point where we need to for example to implement the decision of the court that we have all mechanism and systems in place to do that,” says Environmental Affairs Spokesperson, Albi Modise.
Another concern for the department is that rhino horn trade remains banned internationally and now it fears that legally bought rhino horns in SA may end up on international black markets.
“Although the rhinos are killed in South Africa it’s clear the horns find their way out of South Africa, so our quest as government is to ensure that the protection of the rhino is not only something that is done by South Africa alone but internationally. we need to work together with our partners,” says Modise.
“This application to have the moratorium lifted was brought merely for financial reasons and not for conservation reasons, I think if you really want to protect the rhino you need to acknowledge these animals as beings with intrinsic worth rather than lucrative resources,” says Animal Ethics Expert, Jan-Harm De Villiers.
Almost 5000 rhino have been killed in the country since 2008.–NNN-SABC