Viability of rhino horn trade studied

2011-10-02 22:24

Pretoria - The department of water and environmental affairs (Dwea) has commissioned a feasibility study to look into legalising the rhino horn trade.

“The department, as part of the outcomes of the Rhino Summit held in October last year, has commissioned a feasibility study on the viability of legalising trade in rhino horn in South Africa," department spokesperson Albi Modise told African Eye News Service on Friday. "The terms of reference for the study have been published and a service provider will be appointed shortly."

He said market research would also be done into global rhino horn markets.

He said it was already a known fact that the market for rhino horns was in the Middle and Far East.
“We are not sure about [other] countries or clients who would be interested in buying the horns," he said.
Funds raised from the sale of government-owned rhino horn stockpiles would be used for rhino conservation, he said.

Modise said it was also important to locate black market traders and shut them down. He was adamant that the war against rhino poaching could be won.

Chair of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa Andrew Rossaak has supported the initiative.
“We really support...research [efforts] because there will be a clear understanding of the demand of horns overseas,” said Rossaak.

Rossaak agreed that funds raised through legal rhino horn trade could be used to protect rhinos against poaching.

Last week, South African and Vietnamese officials agreed to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding and collaborate, amongst others, on natural resource management, wildlife protection and law enforcement.
The bi-lateral meeting focussed, in particular, on rhino poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn.

Since January 1, poachers have killed at least 281 rhinos in South Africa.

Dwea minister Edna Molewa has reported that only about 18 800 white rhino and 2 200 of the endangered black rhino remain in South Africa.

She said 155 suspected rhino poachers were arrested this year. Sixty-five arrests were in the Kruger National Park.


  • mara.louw1 - 2011-10-02 22:42

    are they flippen crazy????!!!!!!!

      Jynxd - 2011-10-02 23:10

      I agree, they must be.

      adiama - 2011-10-03 07:48

      We are all missing it... It is not about the animal at all, it is about the inability of our government to deal with the issue of illegal trade, and therefore by legalizing it, they think it will be dealt with, It is the same of prostitution and the use of dagga. Soon murder and rape will also be legalized and then to will look as if they are doing a good job. It is a leadership issue - full stop!!!!

  • POLLENYS - 2011-10-02 23:23

    Has anybody done a study on the advantages of rhino horn, or are we just giving in to another superstitiuous belief? Surely the stuff can be produced in a laboratory if there's any truth in the ruomours.

  • POLLENYS - 2011-10-02 23:26

    Has anybody done a study on the advantages of rhino horn, or are we just giving in to another superstitiuous belief? Surely the stuff can be produced in a laboratory if there's any truth in the ruomours.

  • Philippa - 2011-10-02 23:36

    This is a tragic can legalizing the trade of a body part of a wild animal be morally correct and justified.It should be whats right for the rhino and not your short term vision of filling your pockets due to an existing illegal black market trade.The rhino should be respected for being one of the big 5 majestic wild animals of Africa, a sacred creature...not reduced to being bred and killed for its horn value by the very government that has it on its currency note and should be the protector.Rhino horn belongs to the rhino and no one else. Burn all existing stockpiles as with the elephant tusks and work to protect the rhinos efficiently from poaching and reduce the demand for horn over time so that the rhino will once again be free and left alone.We need to be a country that protects, not abuses the rhino.

      Brenton - 2011-10-03 03:47

      @Philippa we trade in animal parts everyday, where do you think our food comes from? Laboratories still use animals to test beauty products and let's not forget the hunting and more importantly the canned hunting industry.

      Smk - 2011-10-03 06:41

      @Brenton- Proper hunters would not be seen alive doing canned hunting. Proper hunters also tend to make use of the entire animal and they actually have great respect for the animal. Tropyh hunters..... dont go there I dont even agree with it. ===== Most people have this idea meat comes from a steak tree or just comes out a can in a factory. Hunting actually pays for the conservation and support of the animals, it also helps prevent culling as there are generally no preditors on game farms etc. The goverment may be on the right track here but then if they are I need to start believing in Santa because no horn is going to make my genes change the tool I was given.

      Walter - 2011-10-03 06:43

      Burning the horn will not work or will only partially do so as experienced in Kenya and Tanzania. I have posted an article below. They have GOT to find a way to reduce the chances of illegal poaching and John's article below aptly gives the reason behind the legal sale. We do not have the financial resources and manpower to fight the situation as it stands. Dr Ian Player is well known for his advocating a controlled, legal avenue of trade. Think about it?

      Jnr - 2011-10-03 07:26

      @ Philippa, By legalising the trade, South Africa has the ability to flood the market with Rhino Horn... In effect, reducing the price considerably and diminishing the incentive for poaching! As long as there are million dollar price tags on rhino horn, people will kill to get their hands on it... Eliminating the incentive to poach seems to be the most feasible option at the moment and the only way to do that is to legalise the trade. Stockpiles of rhino horn can be used to save rhino, so if you think burning the stockpiles is going to reduce demand over time you need to wake up! We do not have time! We need to save our Rhino and we need to do it NOW! Legalise the trade and use SA's huge stockpiles to flood the market!

  • John - 2011-10-03 00:03

    You guys misunderstand. The Government is sitting on a lot of rhino horns that they cannot sell because of the embargo on the sale of these horns. This is from already dead rhinos who died from natural causes, or was poached, but the horns have been recovered etc. By flooding the market with these horns, they are making it less profitable for poachers. It costs a lot of money to keep a helicopter in the air and to get that horn from where it can be taken to those who want it. If they make no profit, they won't do it. Yes, educating people and convincing them scientifically that the potency of rhino horn is just a myth would be the ultimate goal, however, with 2 200 Black rhino left, flooding the market will buy them time that they otherwise would not have. Hence the study. If this is not going to have the desired effect, they will probably can it. Don't shoot something down as a knee jerk because it is government. Yes they are usually crap, but sometimes they do get the odd thing right. Think before you jump up and down.

      Peter - 2011-10-03 05:45

      If this is Government's intention then fine, I support that. And if the rhino can regrow its horn (as stated in other comments posted here) that is wonderful! (Apart from the rhino looking mutilated, without its horn a mother rhinos cannot defend her baby in times of danger.) But Government must not get soft in the head and think they can relax on the issue of nailing the poachers.

      Majordad.007 - 2011-10-03 06:05

      John, the flooding of the market means little to the big businessmen. Its the impoverished that do the hunt/kill and get very little, so there is still a demand. Dose the horns with a chemical that causes horns to wilt, shrivel and die permanently. Then people will fear the horn and the supposed benefits. Just deal with the entire purchase line. Even if it demands a night-time visit to shake hands - off...

  • Craig Louw - 2011-10-03 00:04

    Has anybody done a study on human body parts? Never mind rhino horn and powdered deer penis what about muthi killings? This is SA after all what were you expecting?

  • Craig Louw - 2011-10-03 00:07

    Sure John but what happens when that stockpile runs out. We ARE after all so good at enforcing our laws.....

  • Epicurius - 2011-10-03 00:19

    Anything to stay sweet with our 'chinas' and their seemingly nationwide erectile dysfunction.

  • Alex - 2011-10-03 02:18

    GReat idea, a rhono can regro its horn. It will bring prices down and make poaching less attractive. Well done DWEA!

  • Craig Louw - 2011-10-03 03:03

    You know a rhino's ability to Regrow it's horn isn't license to disarm it. Humans have cultivated a culture of destruction. We ruin everything we touch. Rhinos are a protected species and why I ask you? Because humans feel like we own the planet. Sometimes evolution is actually de-evolution. We are our own worst enemies.

      Smk - 2011-10-03 06:49

      I would rather see a rhino alive without its horn then dead without its horn..... That alone is a big difference Yes us humans stuff everything up and all few a few chunks of paper and metal in our wallets, most have no respect for nature, we take and destroy and disregard life. They say CO2 is reponsible for global warming, I think it is nature getting ready to pay us back for decades of abuse. We have left no room for nature, we have occupied every corner of the globe and killed everything in our paths.

  • Walter - 2011-10-03 06:35

    No, they are not for a change. This is something that has been advocated by Dr Ian Player and other experts. There are tons of rhino horn held "legally" in bank vaults and other "safe" houses arising from death by natural causes, legal hunting and and the de-horning of live rhino stock held on private farms and reserves. This is the way to control the presently illegal market and to uncover "traders" and export avenues presently used in this despicable trade. We are losing the battle at the moment and it is far better to look at this avenue of trade rather than the continuing uncontrolled slaughter and free for all!!

      Kent - 2011-10-03 07:21

      The problem is that you expand (and create) a market resulting of millions of impotent Asians to try because it has been legalized. Eventually the legal stock will run short - but the demand will remain. Resulting in those crocks going on the hunt again - and prices even raising further - because of the much bigger market. Start thinking beyond... which seems to be a problem for some South African decision makers (politicians)

  • Joy Thorpe - 2011-10-03 07:08


  • Finch - 2011-10-03 07:16

    Did the legal trade in diamonds stop the illegal trade…No Does the legal sale of cars stop cars being stolen…No Did the legal sale of ivory stockpiles stop the poaching of elephants…No Will the proceeds of the legal sale of rhino horn be used for conservation and the protection of rhinos….No…just as the proceeds of the sale of the ivory stockpiles were not used for these purposes. Before the sale of these ivory stockpiles SANParks gave all these big promises of what these funds will be used for….they got about R60 mil from the sale….afterwards nobody knows what happened to that money and SANParks refuses to give answers to questions about this. To top it, the world is still asked for donations to support their anti poaching ops…one of the items which would have been funded by the proceeds of the sale.

      susan.ettmayr - 2011-10-03 13:31

      Hi. If you haven't yet please join a fb site called Outraged SA Citizens against Poaching (Oscap). We'd value your input

  • marnie.hickman - 2011-10-03 07:21

    What are they thinking of ?????? This is beyond belief :o((((

  • Paul - 2011-10-03 07:28

    How long before they do a feasability study on legalising the hunting of poachers

      nommer13 - 2011-10-03 09:40

      I wonder how many people would volunteer to protect a rhino for a two week period once a year? much like the citizen force camps when we still had compulsory service.

  • wesley - 2011-10-03 07:33

    you have got to be kidding......

  • werna - 2011-10-03 08:08

    Have I got my dates wrong? Is it the first of April today?

  • John - 2011-10-03 08:23

    I am both horrified and disgusted that our government would even consider this. They have obviously seen the market value and decided its a good way to make more money to spend on lavish hotels,first class air travel and whatever else they see fit. The rhino's were born with horns ... that's the way it is. lets cut some of the dicks of the policians and see if we can sell those as well.

  • biltongboy - 2011-10-03 09:16

    THEY ARE INSANE!!!!!! Time is of the essence now! and they want to pass the buck to do "a feasibility study"?? I the mean time we have syndicates exploiting our natural resources ans driving the rhino to the verge of extinction? IS THIS FEASIBLE?? And how long will it take for them to get the findings out? and if the results do not "suit" then what more studies??? Its time for action!! SAVE THE RHINO!!! The authorities need to start communicating with groups like OSCAP who have ideas and plans that they want to implement to prevent rhino from dying! Legalizing trade will only increase consumption and our remaining rhino will turn into farm animals! Treat all the stockpile to remove them from the picture!! This proposed move is insane! What they are in fact saying is that if enough of the population do an illegal action and government cannot deal with it appropriately, then we must just change the legislation to suit these illegal actions?? What is next?? Murder? rape? theft? vandalism?

  • DirtySamurai - 2011-10-03 09:37

    Wow lots of knickers in knots here. This is actually smart - legalise it to put pressure on prices, sell of the government stockpile (which is huge) and use that money to breed rhinos and get methods of stopping the demand and the poachers. My personal favourite would be a poison that made the consumer flaccid for life.

  • freckles80 - 2011-10-03 10:28

    this is crazy, I cannot agree with this at all!

  • louis.b.ebersohn - 2011-10-04 08:31

    This is the only solution to the poaching problem. Coservation through Utilisation is the only answer. Look at the success stories of Ostrich and Crocodile farming.

  • Inez - 2011-10-26 17:58

    People, it is quite simple actually, a Rhino can regrow its horn in 5 years, so legalising Rhino horn is actually a great idea, we can remove the horn with no damage to the Rhino, Rhino lives, people make money, win win situation don't you think?

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