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Possible domestic rhino horn trade for SA

The department said in the statement: “The commercial international trade in rhino horn is and remains prohibited in terms of the international protocols that South Africa is party to, particularly the Convention on International Trade in Species of fauna and flora (CITES).” File photo

The department said in the statement: “The commercial international trade in rhino horn is and remains prohibited in terms of the international protocols that South Africa is party to, particularly the Convention on International Trade in Species of fauna and flora (CITES).” File photo

Published Jul 2, 2017

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A draft set of regulations – opened for public comment in February – aims to facilitate the domestic trade in rhino horn.

The Department of Environmental Affairs clarified its position in a statement at the weekend after conservation groups expressed concerns earlier this year about the regulations possibly enabling the illegal trade in the substance overseas.

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The purpose of these regulations, reads the document, was to regulate the domestic selling or otherwise “trading, giving, donating, buying, receiving, accepting as a gift or donation”, or in any way disposing or acquiring, rhinoceros horn within the borders of the country, and the export of rhinoceros horn for personal purposes, from the country.

The department said in the statement: “The commercial international trade in rhino horn is and remains prohibited in terms of the international protocols that South Africa is party to, particularly the Convention on International Trade in Species of fauna and flora (CITES).”

The regulations, said the department, were not meant to circumvent any CITES process as such would be tantamount to non-compliance.

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Read more here about the province's poaching scourge here: Rhino slaying brings KZN's toll to 128

It explained that domestic trade in rhino horn was subject to the issuance of the relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), its regulations and applicable provincial legislation. 

“In terms of (the legislation) a permit is required to among others possess, transport and trade in rhino horns and any derivatives or products of horn. The Constitutional Court judgment in April 2017 confirming the setting aside the 2009 moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn retrospectively does not mean that (people) are allowed to trade (including selling, donating, or in any way acquiring or disposing of rhino horn) without a permit issued by the relevant provincial conservation department.”

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In the statement, they said application forms for permits to authorise the regulated activities must be submitted in the province in which the applicant intends to carry out the restricted activity (e.g. selling, trade in, buying, giving, donating or accepting as gift, possession, conveying, movement, transport, etc.)

“The department has developed an electronic database that will capture extensive details on all individual rhino horns in private and government-owned stockpiles and all newly acquired horns (which will be entered into the database on a monthly basis).”

It has already begun an audit into all existing stockpiles of rhino horn in both the public and private sector.

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“Through the  audit, the department intends to ensure that every horn is tagged with a micro-chip, that DNA testing has been conducted on the horn, and that all horns are measured, weighed, marked and captured on the national database. This will ensure that the department has full and accurate information on the number of horns in South Africa at any given time and the registered owner of each horn. This is vital to prevent the smuggling of illegally-obtained horn out of the country.”

The Mercury

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