A black rhino and a calf. File picture: AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Karl Stromayer

South Africa has lifted a trade ban on rhino horns that was brought in to stem its poaching epidemic.

A judge made the decision yesterday after game breeders John Hume and Johan Kruger claimed it is their constitutional right to sell rhino horn, which they describe as a renewable resource.

Breeders say selling legally harvested horns, which are used in medicine in east Asia, could stifle the lucrative black market.

South Africa is home to about 20,000 rhinos – 80 percent of the world population. The decision came after a northern white rhino – one of just four left in the world – died at a US zoo on Sunday. The international trade ban remains in place.

Jason Bell of International Fund for Animal Welfare condemned the ‘dangerous’ decision. – Daily Mail