Minister paves way to legalise rhino horn trade

The Department of Environmental Affairs has published draft regulations that could open the door for legally acquired rhino horn to be bought and sold‚ including exporting it from the country.

Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa gazetted “draft regulations for the domestic trade in rhinoceros horn‚ or a part‚ product or derivative of rhinoceros horn” on Wednesday.

The regulations would appear to allow‚ albeit under strict conditions‚ for the trade in rhino horn products. The minister’s spokesman was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

The public has been given 30 days to comments on the draft regulations.

Worryingly for those who are against the rhino horn trade‚ the regulations appear to indicate that trading of rhino horn will be permitted.

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

It continues that while these activities are restricted under the Biodiversity Act‚ applications could be made for a permit that would allow it.

Several strict conditions will be applied to the applications‚ including having to supply proof that the horn was acquired and possessed legally‚ photographs of the horn‚ and details of the horn itself in the form of a microchip or serial number.

Only once the full conditions have been met and reviewed by authorities will the permit be given.

Non-South Africans or those who do not live permanently in the country will have to also submit a series of documents‚ including that the horn will not be used in ways that contravene the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora legislations.

Breaching any of the regulations will carry up to five years in prison or a fine of no more than R5-million.

Second-time offenders can expect penalties of up to double these