South Africa reintroduces its rhino horn trade

La Corte suprema del Sudafrica ha revocato il divieto nazionale relativo alla vendita dei corni di rinoceronte. Un passo indietro nella conservazione di questi rari giganti.

African rhinos are being relentlessly poached for their horns, which are thought to have healing properties and have currently reached very high prices. These animals can’t rest, as South Africa has recently decided to lift the ban on its rhino horn trade.

Corno di rinoceronte confiscato
According to WWF, rhinos killed in South Africa increased by 9,000% between 2007 and 2014: from 13 to 1,200. The legal sale of horns could only worsen the situation © Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Supreme Court of South Africa – the country home to the world’s biggest population of rhinos – “has concluded that the application should be dismissed with costs as it lacks reasonable prospects of success,” the Constitutional Court said in statement. Therefore, it lifted the ban established to halt poaching, which is pushing the species to the brink of extinction.

A victory for rhino farmers

The measure has been welcomed with satisfaction by farmers who will be able to continue selling the horns of “their” rhinos. Farmers periodically saw rhino horns (unlike elephant tusks, rhino horns regrow), accumulating many. “We welcome the Constitutional Court ruling, we believe it is a right we have been entitled to,” said Pelham Jones, chairman of South Africa’s Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA). Farmers claim that a regulated rhino horn trade would reduce poaching.

A defeat for conservation

On the other hand, conservationists fear the opposite. They claim that the new lift encourages rhino poaching, considering that horns aren’t sold in South Africa, but mainly in Asia, particularly in China and Vietnam.

Rinoceronte nero, primo piano
According to Save The Rhino, if mortality rate of rhinos doen’t decrease, white rhinoceroses could become extinct in the wild by only 28 years

The ban on international trade remains in place

However, the ban on international trade in rhino horns remains in place, introduced in 1977 by the countries of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Therefore, even if horns are legally obtained within South Africa, they can’t be exported.

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