Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Oppose South Africa rhino horn trade proposals!

Posted: 3 March 2017. Updated: 6 April 2017


Update: Devastating news. An appeal by the South African government to overturn a court ruling allowing domestic trade in rhino horn has been rejected.

The ban had been in place since 2009, but was challenged by game breeders in 2015. Earlier this year, the government consulted on proposed regulations for the trade, likely preempting the decision. ADI and many of our supporters took part urging that the ban, brought in to stem increased poaching, be maintained. The court’s decision threatens the rhino’s very survival. PLEASE TAKEN ACTION FOR RHINOS TODAY.

Urge the South African Department of Environmental Affairs to do all they can to maintain the ban on rhino trade. Contact Ms Magdel Boshoff at

Just weeks after plans to export as many as 800 lion skeletons during 2017 were announced, the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa has published proposals to permit the trade in rhino horn. The public has until 9 March 2017 to comment.

The proposals seek to “make regulations relating to the domestic trade, namely the selling or otherwise trading in, giving, donating, buying, receiving, accepting as a gift or donation, or in any way disposing or acquiring, and the export from the Republic of South Africa, of rhinoceros horn, or a part, product or derivative of such rhinoceros horn, belonging to the species Diceros bicomis (black rhinoceros) and Ceratotherium simum (white rhinoceros)”.

A domestic ban on the trade in rhino horn had been in place since 2009 in a bid to stem increased poaching but was lifted in 2015 following a challenge from game breeders. The government was unsuccessful in its appeal to overturn the decision at the Supreme Court of Appeal last year. The outcome of an application to appeal the judgment is currently awaited, meanwhile the ban remains in place.

The international trade in rhino horn has been illegal since 1977. An attempt by Swaziland to legalize trade in Southern White Rhino horn was rejected at the 2016 CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP17). The proposal was opposed by the EU, the US, and several range countries for African and Asian rhinos, noting enforcement difficulties in distinguishing horns between various species, and widely accepted findings that legal trade incentivizes illicit trade by increasing demand and enabling laundering.

Please save the rhinos and take immediate action!

Send a polite email to Ms Magdel Boshoff at urging the Department of Environmental Affairs not to regulate the trade in rhino horn. Advise Ms Boshoff that the proposals present a serious risk to the survival of the rhino in the wild, opening new markets and fuelling the illicit trade.

South Africa is home to both the white and black rhino, to which the regulations if imposed would apply. The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Near Threatened due to the “continued and escalating poaching in recent years and the high illegal demand for horn”. During the period 2007-2011 the number of rhinos poached each year increased from 13 to 448. According to figures for 2010, South Africa has a population of 18,800 individuals, 93.2% of the species.

The black rhino (Diceros bicornis) is one of three sub-species listed as Critically Endangered. Numbers “have declined by over 90% over the last three generations” with a reported 60 individuals of a total population of 740 found in South Africa. Large-scale poaching in 1960-1995 resulted in a 98% decline in its population, from around 850,000. Their main threat to survival is poaching for the international rhino horn trade.

Although the most recent government figures indicate a drop in the number of rhinos poached in some national parks, figures are on the increase in others.

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