POLL: Should the ban on South Africa’s horn trade be lifted?

POLL: Should the ban on South Africa’s horn trade be lifted?

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Amid mixed responses from conservationists and animal activists, a group of breeders and game reserve owners in is taking legal action to overturn a domestic ban on the trade of .

Arguing that horns are a renewable resource, the group has filed a case in a civil court claiming that selling horn that is legally obtained from living animals kept on game reserves or ranches will help put an end to a poaching crisis that has already claimed over 500 rhinos this year.

“It is in the public interest that the moratorium be lifted and that private rhino owners be able to trade rhino horn in South Africa,” said Izak du Toit, a lawyer representing one of the rhino owners. “While the government continues to do study after study after study, we are losing rhinos.”

A decision to overturn the domestic ban is not one that will be made unanimously. According to Richard Emslie, of the African Rhino Specialist Group, “there are strong arguments as to why it may be detrimental, and there are strong arguments why it could be good.”

Rhinos can produce about 1-2 pounds (up to a kilogram) of horn each year, providing owners with about ten ‘harvestable’ horns within an individual’s lifetime. The horns can be safely removed without causing injury to the animal and breeders argue that the process is quick and painless,comparing it to trimming a horse’s hoof.

“While the government continues to do study after study after study, we are losing rhinos.”

The court order argues that harvested horn will make live rhinos more valuable than dead ones, driving down prices and squashing the . However, some animal activists claim that an end to the ban will only spell trouble in the future.

“This is supported by greed, not conservation,” argues Allison Thomson of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP), claiming that breeders only want to offload their horn stockpiles to further their own financial gain. A legal trade will be riddled with corruption, according to Thomson.

These thoughts are echoed by Jason Bell‚ IFAW director in southern Africa:“This is not a challenge based on the need to conserve and protect rhino; that is a fallacious and disingenuous argument. It is a challenge driven purely by economic incentives and it is the rhino that will pay the ultimate price if the court rules in the favour of the applicants.”

The civil case to overturn the ban is not the first time that discussions have arisen around the laws governing horn trade. South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)has been exploring the viability of dropping the international ban on horn trade since 2013, and even established a 22-memberCommittee of Inquiry in February this year to offer advice and recommendations on a legal trade.Trade in rhino horn has been banned internationally since 1977, and domestically in South Africa since 2009, when some hunters were found to be abusing rhino hunting permits in order to export illegally obtained horns.

A proposal to lift the international ban is expected to be voted on at the17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17)of the Convention on International Trade in of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), scheduled to take place next year in Johannesburg. Overturning the ruling would require that at least 66 percent of the 181parties to CITES vote yes to legal trade.

The civil case to drop the domestic ban will resume in September this year. What are your thoughts? Should South Africa legalise the horn trade?

This article was first published by Earth Touch Network on 24 Jun 2015.

We invite you to share your opinion whether the ban on South Africa’s horn trade should be lifted? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page:

Should the ban on South Africa's horn trade be lifted?

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Adi Le Roux

I have heard from a very very reliable source that " Poachers testicles are a great remedy used to fight the AIDS virus " and should be impleted as soon as possible!!!!!!!!

John Zolis

Bugs Van Heerden So you can decimate an other sub-species? As far as vested interest— Its like the two sides of climate change 97% of climate scientist agree its a fact, Yet 3% don't and there are the republicans who walk into the senate with snow balls denouncing it exists. Trump thinks its some kind of Chinese propaganda! Seriously do you think that those who deny it have no vested interest? Can we demonstrate each and every tie? Probably not, but you must agree that those who deny climate change are bought and paid for by BIG OIL! I for… Read more »

Charlene Gill

I think the idiots that wanted to make money off these horns started the rumor that there was medicinal value in them and the other idiots believed it. Now we must start a rumor that the horns cause cancer, alzheimers, warts, etc……

Bugs Van Heerden

Brenda Robinson Here are some experts who have no financial interest in Rhino who are in support of lifting the ban. Dr Ian Player, Dr George Hughes, David Cook ex director Natal Parks board, Professor John Hanks, Professor Rowan Martin, Michael Eustace, Michael tSas-Rolfes, Prof Brian Child, Professor Michael Norton-Griffiths and the list goes on and on and on. You may want to do some research Brenda.

Brenda Robinson

The public majority has common sense and a heart. Some so called experts are corrupt and lie! You are wrong here Bugs.

Brenda Robinson

All animals want to live. Let them live.

Bugs Van Heerden

John Zolis no-one ever had a vested interest in the western black rhino – maybe that is why it went extinct.

John Zolis

You mean those with a vested interest who profit from the extinction of these animals like the western black who recently was listed as extinct… Doing a smashing job so far if it wasn't for "joe public" there wouldn't be any animals left !

John Zolis

95 % vote No, 5 % vote yes – 95 % of the population doesn't hunt. Funny that the 5% who do dictate to the majority what should and shouldn't be allowed with regards to hunting !

Sally Cutts

NO, Never!!

Lizz Girouard

No, it should not be lifted. The rhinos need protecting.

Michael Montepara

NO lifting of the ban! We're destroying the entire species!

Richard White

No trade!

Lisa Wilkinson


Judith Burritt

STOP STOP STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Judy M Stock

South African citizen in UK…………..NO. SA has loss to many rhino already

Helen Wood

Annelien Van Der Merwe The legalisation of the ivory trade signed the death warrants of a lot of elephants. This is an idiotic idea.

Helen Wood

Are they mad, or just deeply, deeply corrupt?

Cristie Caldwell

Absolutely not!! To many animals are becoming extinct by sick hunters who get a thrill from killing!

Clare Moon

WHY would a ban on animal parts be lifted in the first place?

Anamika Arya


Karalinda Aguilar

No ! We need to dye there horns , condervstionidyd have sent hundreds of wildlife to extinction and more wildlife are next .
Humans are destroying this earths animals and the earths ocean animals .
When will man stop ?

Eileen Rose Smith

Please leave the Rhino alone, it's cruel and the ban should not be lifted. The same applies to shooting of Giraffe's like the poor one that some stupid thoughtless woman did recently and was put on Facebook, what is the world coming to our next generation will be left with nothing but photo's of all kind of majestic animals. Shame of these greedy people who put money above all else

Helen Rae Charbonneau

Whoa! That'll do it. Completely illegal, but…

Be The Change You Want To See

Greed is a vile addiction! Lifting the ban will only exacerbate the desire for more, more, more; thereby escalating the further heinous decimation of these magnificent beings worth far more alive than dead to not only wildlife lovers but Africa itself. Shoot photos, not wildlife! Charge more for the fees in the parks; the current fees are way too low for the experience of such a glorious adventure. Allow the people to rent booths to sell their wares, baked goods, etc..so that they too derive economic enrichment from the conservation, not destruction, of your country's greatest assets.

Val Taylor

Why is this even an issue? No No and No. Legalising rhino horn trade will ultimately spell THE END for rhinos. Legalise shooting the poachers and tracking down the supply lines first, then, when rhino numbers have risen to safe numbers (sometime in La la land) think again when hopefully, no-one wants the useless keratin that the horn is made of. Bet all the rhino ranchers won't be so keen then.

Megan Hunter

As I have always stated, all confiscated rhino/elephant horn should be injected with cyanide and sent on its way. Anyone grinding it down, or who consumes it will die. This is a surefire way to make the demand for the horn to go down. There needs to be widespread deaths everywhere to make these ignorant, selfish cruel subhumans think twice about supporting this barbaric trade.

Cam Steele

Poaching of Elephants actually escalated and is directly attributed to the rise in Elephant poaching tragedy that exists today. Conservationists and Govts now admit the limited releases for trade were a disaster! If you dont know these areas, google Tiger farming and Bear farming and then come back with the benefits there – there are none! They are barbaric and disgusting enterprises that have placed enormous pressure on the surviving wild Tiger and Bear, which are still being slaughtered. Also Google the campaign to save the Giant Panda. Facing extinction China banned all trade in Panda and their body parts.… Read more »

David Reynolds

Perhaps it's better to educate the superstitious Chinese. To bring them screaming into the 21st century. None of their so called magic potions have any desired affect at all. Shameful way to carry on

Sharon McCullough

100% NO! I'm incredulous that this would even be a serious issue. Holy crap – we're in the 2000th century and have learned …?????
I'd love to know the names of the humans promoting such recklessly irresponsible wanton stupidity. Canned hunting owners, Asians? Frontal lobotomy recipients……?

Absolutely not. What's next? Revival of Albino people parts hunting? Ivory? The greed of the few who take from all are why we are as we are. I know who we should be hunting but I could get in trouble for saying things like " the 1%: bankers, corporate heads and politicians", oh well.

Dave Leslie

its all about money and to hell with the Rhinos… If you allow harvesting of the horn… you will not stop the poaching…as the money is too good, and how can you tell a harvested horn from a poached one…Dont matter how you mark it… they will find a way round it…By harvesting , your telling that little yellow man with the "horney"problem, it works, thats why we are going all out to over turn the ruling.. and if you think harvesting will be enough to supply the demand… think again…all you are doing is pushing the price up……………….."Yes Greed… Read more »

Mike Borg

Instead of lifting the horn trade ban, how about simply educating he world that rhino horn is 100% useless to anyone but the rhino? Oh, right – this isn't about conservation.

Michael Eddy

Renewable resource? Who's the complete idiot that came up with that? Ban this trade forever. Using common sense, anyone can see this is a bad idea. It is absurd. No debate!!

Hadassah Deren

There is absolutely no use for rhino horn. They must get rid of the demand through education. No demand No supply!

Annelien Van Der Merwe

Look what happened when ivory trade was legalised…..poaching of elephants decreased.

Maureen Eales

these animals are suffering enough the ban should NEVER BE LIFTED

Maria Manuela Lopes

No ,

Adi Le Roux

NO NO NO NO never, what a horrible thing to even think, that this will ever stop poaching, dehorn all the bastards who think they can get away with murder in South Africa

Julie Beddome

Only Rhinos need their horns, not people!

Leigh Lofgren

How utterly stupid and why is this being taken seriously? Their is no medicinal purpose at all in any horn or any part of other animals – these people are ignorant and all down to pure greed and money. All should be banned and anyone caught killing these animals and the others should be shot on sight.

Ayanda Zimkhitha Saki

More arrests … more accountability … senior officials being paid must be named, shamed, investigated and arrested.

Carol Thompson

Legalization has never solved the problem of illegal trade and in some cases the poaching has escalated when legal trade has been approved.

Linda French

Greed, and the barbaric outdated Asian Market is the responsible for the killing of rhinos and other wildlife. China being the worst country – stop the CHINESE stop the problem!!!!

Aleida Maria Fuller

How about when u catch a criminal start pulling out his/her fingernails a little at a time everyday ………………..see how they would feel I have No other words
Sick S O B

Cat Vincent

Legalising trade will only escalate demand, not do anything to stop poverty stricken poachers who are prepared to risk their lives for enough money to keep their family fed for a year or so. The only things that will stop poaching are to REDUCE the demand by educating the people who buy the stuff, believing in its almost magical properties, by stamping down hard on the king pins who make a fortune out of the trade and by alleviating poverty in rural South Africa, Mozambique and the surrounding countries. Tourism is a valuable trade to all the Southern Africa countries… Read more »

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

the need for animal parts as medicine or for any other use is beyond antiquated, immoral and ignorant…shame on anyone who in any way thinks that trade in living beings is acceptable

Annelien Van Der Merwe

If it's legal, the horns can be sold, without killing the animal and the horn grows back. Now, they are killing the poor animal for a few kg's of "hair and nails".

Bugs Van Heerden

Why are we asking the public opinion here? Surely we should be consulting with experts. Do we leave the fate of the rhino in ignorant hands of Joe Public? The mind boggles….

Ross Kardon

Desperate situations like these call for desperate measures. Why not establish rhino ranches with both black and white rhinos, sell the horn, and then use the money to protect rhinos from being killed by poachers?

Valda Napier

NO ! Leave our wild life alone. You should be ashamed of yourselves for even THINKING about it.