Moratorium on rhino horn trade reinstated

According to a statement recently released by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn has been reinstated after Edna Molewa, minister of the DEA, filed for leave to appeal the SCA’s decision in May to lift the ban.

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The statement said that the application suspended the execution of a 2015 High Court invalidation of the moratorium.

Dr Peter Oberem, deputy president of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA), said that he was not aware of any horns traded in the week that the moratorium was lifted.

“I happened to have dehorned my rhinos at the time, [as] no one was interested to buy. You can’t do anything if you don’t have a market,” Oberem said. He added that the recent dehorning of his 14 rhinos cost R100 000.

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Oberem explained that rhino care was expensive, and that trading in rhino horns helped cover some of the costs.

“Currently, we pay for security, veterinary fees, dehorning, permits and storage. We can get something back if we sell horns,” he said.

Pelham Jones, chairperson of the Private Rhino Owners’ Association, said that security on private reserves had increased since 2008 in an attempt to protect rhinos from poachers.

“I conducted a survey amongst our members in 2013 to determine what the costs involved for securing rhino were. In 2013, it amounted to a total of R270 million for rhino protection and monitoring. But there isn’t an exact figure,” Jones said.

Jones explained that with inflation and escalating costs, approximately R320 million was currently spent per year by the private sector to secure its rhinos. “The private sector has lost over 1000 rhino with an estimated value of R350 million,” Jones added.

According to the DEA, “any person found in possession of a rhino horn may be liable to a fine not exceeding R10 million, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years.”