Rhino horn

Legalizing the trade in rhino horn.

Since 1977, international trade in rhino horn has been banned. This is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Despite this treaty, own countries can adopt their own laws that permit or prohibit the sale of rhino horn nationally. Some countries have banned domestic rhino trade since the CITES treaty.

In 2016 was the most recent CITES conference. ESwatini submitted a proposal to reduce the international trade in rhino horn, this proposal was rejected. In August 2019 there will be another CITES conference where many items will be discussed that are important for rhino conservation. ESwatini would once again submit a proposal to enable the trade in rhino horn.

Why do some parties advocate legalizing the trade?

  • The costs of rhino protection have risen sharply since the poaching crisis that started in 2008. Rhinoceros owners have to invest a lot of money in the protection of rhinos and are therefore forced to use their land for other purposes.
  • Currently, the proceeds from the rhino trade are all going to criminals without legal trade. With legal trade it could go to rhino managers who can put the money back into the preservation of the rhino.
  • Funding for aid organizations is insufficient and is often used for national or community-oriented rhinos, and not for the private sector.
  • At present, rhino owners are viewed differently, some countries believe that all rhinos belong to the national good, so owners cannot determine what they can and cannot do with their rhinos.

Why do some parties argue against legalizing the trade?

  • It is not known whether legalizing trade in a certain country can have an effect on poaching in other rhino areas.
  • Behavioral change campaigns must convey nuanced messages, since now much attention is being given that rhino horn has no medicinal function and should not be used. When legalizing the horn you spread another sound.
  • Law enforcement authorities of different countries may have difficulty distinguishing between illegal and legally traded rhino horn.
  • When the illegal products are removed, it is unclear what the size of the market is, and supply can meet demand.

History of rhino horn trade.

South Africa was one of the countries that allowed legal domestic trade in rhino horn until 2009. However, this ended when the poaching crisis began in 2008. The ban in 2009 was opposed by private rhino owners. After several lawsuits, the prohibition was lifted in November 2015 by the High Court. The Department for Environmental Affairs of South Africa appealed against this. In April 2017, the Constitutional Court lifted the ban on domestic rhino trade. The Department for Environmental Affairs has not challenged this again but has focused primarily on developing legislation aimed at domestic sales of rhino such as permits and DNA samples.

Committee of inquiry South Afrika.

A special committee was set up in 2015 consisting of 20 people with different conservation origins and therefore different interests. The persons on this committee are from SAN parks, government agencies, owners of private rhinos and researchers. The purpose of this committee is to inform the government with a report on all aspects of the rhino trade. An extensive report was published in 2016, the most important of which were given below.

Na verschillende onderzoekmethodes zijn vijf belangrijkste punten bepaald die interventies vereisen om natuurcriminaliteit aan te pakken. Deze gebieden hebben elk ontwikkelde indicatoren om de voortgang te meten en nieuwe doelen vast te stellen.

  • Beveiliging (wetshandhaving).
  • Biologisch management.
  • community – empowerment (Het proces waarbij gemeenschappen meer invloed krijgen op hun gezondheid & kwaliteit van leven door middel van sociale en politieke veranderingen).
  • Responsieve wettelijke bepalingen en effectieve uitvoering hiervan.

After various research methods, five main points were determined that require interventions to tackle natural crime. These areas each have indicators developed to measure progress and set new goals.

  • Security (law enforcement).
  • Organic management.
  • community - empowerment (The process whereby communities gain more influence on their health & quality of life through social and political changes).
  • Responsive legal provisions and effective implementation thereof.

The report also cited two important issues that should be answered in the near future.

  • Question 1: The potential role of demand reduction and / or legal trade of rhino horn to address the pressure on demand.

Opties:Change in consumer behavior through campaigns, and the introduction and enforcement of legislation to reduce the demand for rhino horn in consumer countries. Facilitate part of the demand from legal sources in a well-regulated trade and thereby generate money for rhino conservation.
  • Question 2: How to finance rhino protection.
Opties:International recruitment campaigns to generate more income for protection. Tourist taxes, environmental compensation aid or a legal trade in rhino horn.

Three models are discussed for the legal trade in rhino horn.
  • Sale by central selling organization set up by a South African government.
  • Sales through government agency that allocates quuota to public and private agencies and that is only sold to equivalent government-controlled agencies in other countries.
  • Centralized storage and certification with quota allocation for participating suppliers operating through a partnership. However, every model is not without risk and more depth is needed before decisions are made.

If you want to know more about committee of inquiry or the outcomes of the above report, have a look at the link below

Download the rapport here