SA's first online rhino horn auction sparks anger

2017-08-23 22:52
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Johannesburg - South Africa's first online auction of rhino horn opened Wednesday, despite conservation groups protesting that the legal, domestic sale would encourage poachers.

John Hume, who owns 1,500 rhinos on his farm north of Johannesburg, has stockpiled six tonnes of rhino horns and wants to sell 264 pieces weighing a total of 500kg.

He harvests the horns by tranquilising the animals and cutting them off - a technique he says is humane and wards off poachers.

Read: SA's first online rhino horn auction set to open

Activists opposed to the sale fear it will fuel trafficking and undermine a 40-year global ban on the rhino trade.

There was no comment from government following the opening of the auction, which comes after a South Africa's top court lifted an eight-year moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horns in April.

No 'blood horns

Read: Wildlife Act responds to John Hume ahead of delayed online rhino horn auction

Rhino horns are highly prized in Asia, where they are estimated to fetch up to R780 000 ($60 000) per kilo on the black market, exceeding the price of gold or cocaine.

The horns consist mainly of keratin, the same component as in human nails, and are sold in powdered form as a supposed cure for cancer and other diseases - as well as a purported aphrodisiac - in Vietnam and China.

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