DA calls for moratorium on rhino hunting

2011-08-01 12:56

The DA called on Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa today to declare a moratorium on rhino hunting in South Africa.

“It has now been revealed that a small number of professional hunters have been exploiting the legal hunting of rhinos as a means to export rhino horn into the illegal trade,” DA environmental affairs spokesperson Gareth Morgan said in a statement.

Recent media reports had exposed how Thai nationals had allegedly been issued with hunting permits in the North West, and that many, if not all of them, were not shooting the rhino themselves, making the hunts illegal.

“Further, the reports of the investigative journalists have alleged that the rhino horns have been mounted as trophies and then exported to the Far East, where the ‘trophies’ entered the illegal trade in rhino horn. A rhino horn trophy is intended only for the use of the hunter who legally killed the rhino,” Morgan said.

Rhino hunting was regulated according to the various provinces’ needs, and it was essential that oversight be strengthened and governance improved at both national and provincial level.

Morgan said: “For this reason, the DA calls on the minister, in consultation with the provincial MECs for environmental affairs and conservation, to institute a short-term moratorium on rhino hunting to allow for an improvement in controls.”

The provincial conservation authorities in North West had to answer how they allowed these practices to take place.

“However, we should equally be concerned about the other provinces that have ramped up the awarding of permits for the hunting of rhinos, notably Limpopo province and Mpumalanga province. I will today [Monday] be writing to the minister to ask her to consider the implementation of a moratorium,” said Morgan.

Among the steps necessary was the establishment of a national online registry of hunting permits.

Molewa also needed to engage with her provincial counterparts about conducting a full audit of rhino hunts in the provinces over the past 18 months.

“It needs to be established to what extent ... government officials and professional hunters have been knowingly complicit in rhino hunts that have led to the rhino ‘trophies’ entering the international rhino horn trade.”

The minister needed to lead a discussion on the number of rhinos that should be permitted to be hunted in South Africa each year, and whether there should be a maximum allowable number of rhino permits for each province.

“The DA is very aware that moratoriums of any kind can have unforeseen consequences. For this reason, if the minister does institute a moratorium it should be for a stated time period, and she needs to commit to improving the regulation of rhino hunting during that time,” Morgan said.

» The call for a moratorium comes as the number of rhino killed by poachers so far this year passes 220.

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