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April 21, 2016

South Africa Scraps Controversial Proposal to Legalize International Trade in Rhino Horn at CITES

Misguided move would have put already threatened rhino populations at risk, says Humane Society International

Humane Society International

  • A black rhino. Despite having no medicinal properties, the demand for rhino horn for its use in tradicional medicine has driven the poaching crisis. Bob Koons/HSUS

After a period of lengthy consideration that had conservationists very concerned, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs has officially announced that South Africa will not be submitting a proposal to legalize international trade in rhino horn at the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species that will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Teresa Telecky, Ph.D., director of wildlife for Humane Society International, said: "We commend South Africa on its decision not to submit this controversial and misguided proposal, and for its continued commitment to protecting rhinos during this poaching crisis. With only about 27,000 rhinos left in the world, rhinos cannot sustain any level of trade. African countries need to focus on rhino conservation, not commodification."

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HSI has been working with the government of Vietnam since 2013 on a national campaign to reduce demand for rhino horn that is driving the rhino poaching crisis. The campaign has reached an estimated 31 million Vietnamese people so far. Rhino horn demand in Vietnam is driven by false belief held by some that rhino horn can cure cancer and other diseases. One of the campaign’s messages is that rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance in human finger nails and has no medicinal properties. 

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, +1 301-721-6440

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