Rhino horn trade ini­tia­tive launched

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO NEWS - Larry Bent­ley

THE Pri­vate Rhino Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (PROA), based in South Africa, has an­nounced the launch of Rhino Horn Trade Africa (RHTA), an ini­tia­tive that will fa­cil­i­tate the le­gal trade of rhino horn.

RHTA re­cently un­veiled its newly es­tab­lished on­line trade desk, which aims to pro­vide a man­aged, ef­fi­cient plat­form from which gen­uine buy­ers and sell­ers can trade in ‘clean’, hu­manely acquired rhino horn.

RHTA will fa­cil­i­tate trade via its web­site, www.rhta.co.za and will as­sist both buy­ers and sell­ers of le­gal horn when it comes to mat­ters of com­pli­ance, in­clud­ing Fi­nance In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre Act (FICA) re­quire­ments and the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of per­mits.

The ini­tia­tive is in­tended to pre­vent il­le­gal horns from en­ter­ing the mar­ket.

‘The de­ci­sion to form RHTA was taken at last year’s PROA AGM where mem­bers voted unan­i­mously for the cre­ation of a trade desk to fa­cil­i­tate sales and bring much-needed con­ser­va­tion rev­enue to mit­i­gate rhino man­age­ment and se­cu­rity costs,’ says PROA chair­man Pel­ham Jones.

Pri­vate rhino own­ers cur­rently own in ex­cess of 7 000 black and white rhino, which is more than the rest of Africa com­bined and about 37% of the na­tional herd.

Checks and bal­ances

‘Since the mora­to­rium was lifted, PROA and RHTA have fo­cused on how to meet the sub­stan­tial de­mand for rhino horn in a way that is le­gal, trans­par­ent and will un­der­mine il­le­gal trade,’ says Jones.

RHTA is work­ing closely with the Vet­eri­nary Ge­net­ics Lab­o­ra­tory (VGL), Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria at On­der­stepoort, to en­sure that all rhino horn sold through RHTA, is first recorded on the Rhino DNA In­dex Sys­tem, or RhODIS® data­base.

Ev­ery rhino horn of­fered for sale through RHTA must pos­sess a DNA cer­tifi­cate. Ge­netic pro­fil­ing is the key con­trol in es­tab­lish­ing the prove­nance of ev­ery rhino horn on of­fer.

By this mech­a­nism no ‘blood’ horn is able to en­ter the mar­ket.

RhODIS works in part­ner­ship with the SAPS and var­i­ous pro­vin­cial wildlife en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties at the DEA to en­sure suc­cess­ful prose­cu­tions in rhino poach­ing cases.

Guid­ance on sale pro­ce­dure

All PROA mem­bers and all other per­sons or en­ti­ties that own or pos­sess rhino and/or legally acquired rhino-horn are in­vited and en­cour­aged to con­tact RHTA in or­der to ob­tain as­sis­tance and guid­ance to cer­tify their rhi­nos and/ or horns in line with DEA laws and reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing the Norms and Stan­dards, the Threat­ened or Pro­tected Species (TOPS) Reg­u­la­tions and the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment: Bio­di­ver­sity Act No. 10 of 2004 (NEMBA), as well as CITES.

The process is trans­par­ent and ac­count­able, guar­an­tee­ing 100% trace­abil­ity.

‘We have gone to enor­mous lengths to en­sure full com­pli­ance with TOPS, NEMBA and other reg­u­la­tions,’ says Jones.

RHTA has as its pri­mary ob­jec­tive the long-term sur­vival of the rhino.

The sale of rhino horn will en­able those en­trusted with cus­tody and pro­tec­tion of the rhino to utilise the funds thereby acquired, to bet­ter pro­tect and safe­guard ex­ist­ing, and fu­ture rhino pop­u­la­tions.

Great ex­pense

Jones says the rev­enue gen­er­ated from sales will be viewed as con­ser­va­tion rev­enue that will as­sist rhino own­ers to con­tinue pro­tect­ing and car­ing for their an­i­mals, which they cur­rently do at great per­sonal ex­pense, with no in­cen­tives or out­side fund­ing.

‘Be­tween 2009 and 2017, the pri­vate sec­tor has spent ap­prox­i­mately R2bn on rhino se­cu­rity and man­age­ment, costs that we have largely been un­able to re­coup,’ says Jones.

PROA chair­man - Pel­ham Jones

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