South Africa lifts ban on domestic rhino horn trade

Cape Town, Nov 26 (IANS) A South African court on Thursday lifted a ban on domestic trade of rhino horns in a case brought by rhino breeders, Xinhua reported.

The government had imposed a moratorium on the trade in 2009 with the aim to curb rhino poaching.

But two biggest private rhino breeders in South Africa, John Hume and Johan Kruger, filed the case, arguing the ban only caused a rhino poaching crisis.

Official figures show South Africa lost 749 rhinos to poaching between January and August this year, while a record 1,215 rhinos were illegally killed in the country last year, up from only 13 killed in 2007.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has claimed she intends to appeal the decision made by the high court in Pretoria.

“The decision of the court should not be construed to mean that the domestic trade in rhino horn may take place in an unregulated fashion,” Molewa said.

She said in the absence of the ban, all domestic trade of rhino horns would need relevant permits as required by law.

Global trade of rhino horns remains prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

South Africa is home to about 90 percent of the world’s rhino population.

The lifting of the ban came after 12 suspects were arrested early this week for rhino poaching, including three police officers.

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