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January 21, 2016

South Africa High Court Legalises Rhino Horn Trade

Tipping point towards extinction for these iconic animals nears

Humane Society International

  • Christophe Cerisier/iStockphoto

Update May 23, 2016: In a disappointing turn of events, South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal has denied the Ministry of Environment's appeal. Domestic trade in rhinoceros horn is now legal in South Africa. Humane Society International will continue work to end the trade in rhino horn, including in South Africa.

Update: South Africa's Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa stated that she will appeal the High Court's decision to the Supreme Court of Appeals, which would keep the moratorium on the domestic rhino horn trade in place for the time being.

The High Court of Pretoria has effectively made the trade in rhino horn legal in South Africa in a ruling criticized by Humane Society International. Teresa Telecky, Wildlife director for HSI, has responded with the following statement:

“This is a gravely disappointing move by the High Court of Pretoria that could not have come at a worse time for the survival of this species. Amidst a rhino poaching crisis and increased international efforts to reduce demand for rhino horn, this ruling will do nothing whatsoever to protect rhinos, and only serves to benefit those parties with vested interests who seek to commodify rhino horn, and who stand to profit greatly as a result.

While only about 29,000 rhinos are left in the world, 1,215 were poached in South Africa alone in 2014. This is the year in which poaching rates will likely overtake the rhinos’ natural rate of reproduction; the tipping point towards extinction for these iconic animals. Rhinos are wild animals who need to be protected so that they may grace our planet for years to come, not be treated as a commodity to be bought and sold out of existence.”

HSI funds an anti-poaching project in South Africa and a nationwide rhino horn demand reduction programme in Vietnam.

The court dismissed the Department of Environmental Affairs’ appeal to an earlier court ruling that overturned the moratorium on the country’s domestic rhino horn trade.

Media contacts:
UK: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org, +44(0)7989 972 423
US: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, +1 301-721-6440 

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