Si­lence around rhino horn auc­tion

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

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.

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