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DEA: Environmental Affairs on false impression created about domestic trade in rhino horn

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DEA: Environmental Affairs on false impression created about domestic trade in rhino horn

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17th July 2017


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The Department of Environmental Affairs is concerned about the impression that is being created through the advertisement for an online auction of rhino horn by a South African game rancher that is using websites and social media to advertise same.

It is important to note that the content of various websites, some of which have been translated into Chinese and Vietnamese, as well all other Social Media sites, is misleading and creates the unfortunate impression that South Africa has approved of, and is promoting , the international trade in rhino horn.


While the website and Facebook advertising for the online auction in August 2017 of rhino horn makes no mention of the international trade in rhino horn, it creates the impression, because it has been translated into Chinese and Vietnamese, that the horns will be available for purchase by international consumers and speculators for export from South Africa. 

The Department would like to emphasise that such action, that is, international trade would be illegal in terms of domestic regulations and South Africa’s international obligations.  


The Constitutional Court order retrospectively setting aside the moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn on 5 April 2017 means that the domestic trade in rhino horn is subject to the issuing of the relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), its regulations and applicable provincial legislation in order to be able to trade nationally.

The commercial international trade in rhino horn is and remains prohibited in terms of all international protocols that South Africa is party to, particularly the Convention on International Trade in Species of fauna and flora (CITES). 

The planned sale of rhino horn by private rhino owners relates to domestic trade only. The Department can confirm that it has received an application to sell rhino horn by means of an online rhino auction from a private owner and is in a process of evaluating the application in line with the provisions of the Threatened or Protected Species Regulations (TOPS) developed in terms of NEMBA. 

In terms of the auction, it should be noted that national regulations and legislation with regard to the domestic commercial trade in rhino horn will have to be complied with.   This means that the buyers and the seller would have to abide by all laws applicable within the borders of South Africa.

The South African Government and Department of Environmental Affairs remain committed to a well-regulated process implementing its domestic legislation, as well as all  CITES provisions, to manage the trade in endangered species, such as rhino, in a manner that is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.


Issued by Department of Environmental Affairs


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