The constitutional court of South Africa has just rejected the attempt by the government to keep the crucial ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn, thereby making it legal to sell the horn that is made of the same substance that is in people’s nails. Whilst rhino breeders argue that the legalisation of the trade means that they can cut off the horns of their own animals to sell, which they believe will reduce the illegal poaching crisis, conservationists strongly disagree with the proposed policy.
Albie Modise, a spokesman for the department of environmental affairs, said that, “It is important to note that permits are required to sell or buy rhino horn.” The new ruling only applies to the industry that is South Africa, meaning that there is still a ban on the international trade in rhino horn.
Rhino breeders have welcomed the ruling, and Pelham Jones, chairman of the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA), told AFP news agency, “We are absolutely delighted at the ruling by the constitutional court.” Whilst the breeders argue that the process is not permanent as the horns grow back, many conservationists disagree with removing the iconic element of a prehistoric creature. The Helping Rhinos organisation tweeted that the ruling was “disastrous”, and the World Wildlife Fund tweeted on Wednesday, “There’s no market for rhino horn in SA (South Africa), so anyone who buys it would likely be thinking about selling it abroad illegally.” South Africa is thought to be the home of around 80% of the worldwide population of rhinos, which remains to be only around 20,000. In 2016, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa.
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