Silence around rhino horn auction
THE world’s first allegedly legal online auction of rhino horns by South African rhino breeder John Hume drew to a close late yesterday amid continued silence from the government and the breeder.
Although the sale of horns in South Africa has been ruled legal following a series of recent court battles‚ it remains illegal under an international treaty to sell any horns commercially at a global level.
The 75-year-old former property developer‚ who has a herd of more than 1 500 rhino at his wildlife ranch in North West‚ has angered several wildlife and animal welfare groups by putting 264 rhino horns up for sale in an online auction.
Environment Minister Edna Molewa has not responded to requests for comment‚ though officials in her department are understood to have monitored the auction closely.
Hume has argued that selling horns “legally” rather than via the black market would help to reduce rampant poaching by illegal criminal syndicates.
However, opponents say that with no known domestic demand‚ horns are likely to be moved to the East.
They also argue that Hume’s auction sends a mixed message to major consumer markets in China and Vietnam at a time when conservation groups are lobbying hard to halt any use of horn in traditional Chinese medicine.