Allowing the sale of horn stockpiles is a setback for rhinos in the wild

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A South African court has ordered the government to release a permit to the world’s largest rhino breeder, John Hume. The permit will allow him to host a 3-day auction of his stockpiled rhino horn to local buyers.

Hume is the world’s largest private rhino breeder. He owns 1500 rhino, just over a twentieth of the total number believed still to be in the wild. South Africa lost over 1000 rhinos to poaching last year, predominantly in the Kruger Park and in KwaZulu-Natal. Hume says that the proceeds of the auction will go towards protecting his herd, which he says currently costs him USD$170,000 a month.

Hume had been granted a permit, but it was withdrawn by the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs. A South African Constitutional Court ruling in April lifted a moratorium on the domestic rhino horn trade, upholding a previous High Court ruling. Hume then filed another court application to have his permit reinstated, which was upheld on Sunday. Such permits allow the buying and selling of rhino horn provided that the horns remain in the country after the sale.

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