The Citizen (KZN)

Permit scheme will control SA rhino horn sales

- Amanda Watson

A permit system for the local sale and possession of rhino horn is in place, the Department of Environmen­tal Affairs (DEA) says.

This is after anti-poaching activists expressed fears after last week’s Constituti­onal Court ruling that it would not hear an appeal by the department against a high court decision forcing the lifting of a 2009 moratorium on local trade.

The environmen­tal management inspectors of both the DEA and provincial conservati­on department­s monitor compliance with the conditions of the permits, said DEA spokespers­on Albi Modise.

“The department has developed an electronic database that will capture extensive details of all individual rhino horns in private and government-owned stockpiles and all newly-acquired horns, which will be entered into the database on a monthly basis,” he said.

The DEA’s directorat­e of biodiversi­ty compliance was conducting an audit of all existing stockpiles of rhino horn.

The directorat­e had done audit inspection­s of government-owned rhino horn in all provinces and of privately-owned horn in two provinces.

“Six provinces have conducted audit inspection­s in respect of privately-owned horns.

“The department is currently conducting ad hoc inspection­s to verify the provincial audits.

“One province is still in the process of inspecting privately-owned rhino horn stockpiles.

“Once the inspection­s and audit are complete, the department will conduct ad hoc inspection­s to verify the informatio­n,” Modise said.

The department wants every horn in government and private hands to be tagged with a micro-chip, DNA tested, measured, weighed, marked and captured on the national database.

“This will ensure that the department has full and accurate informatio­n on the number of horns in South Africa at any given time and the registered owner of each horn.

“This is vital to prevent the smuggling of illegally-obtained horn out of the country,” said Modise.

Yesterday, Agence FrancePres­se news agency reported that enforcemen­t officials in Malaysia had seized 18 rhinoceros horns imported from Mozambique, weighing 51.4kg. Mozambique shares a border with the Kruger National Park, which has borne the brunt of rhino poaching in South Africa. –

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