The South African government remains committed to addressing the ongoing scourge of rhino poaching that has to date seen a total of 480 rhino killed for their horns, whilst the number of arrests has increased to 140.
As part of interventions to address the scourge, Cabinet recently approved that South Africa prepares and submits a rhino trade proposal for consideration at the 17th Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2016. The Cabinet also approved the establishment of a Task Team to assist in preparation for the CoP17 CITES, since the development of a trade proposal should take into account numerous aspects, including the appropriate model for trade; the anticipated changes in the markets and the demand for rhino horn; the additional control measures and requirements to be introduced; potential trade partners; etc.
The decision to table a proposal at the next CITES CoP was not taken lightly. It followed an extensive public consultation process, nationally and internationally. In 2012 a national consultation process, known as the Rhino Issue Management process relating to rhino conservation was initiated with various stakeholders. This process resulted in the Rhino Issue Manager (RIM) Report that has since been tabled in Cabinet and MECs. The RIM Report makes recommendations on funding, rhino conservation, safety and security, and commerce (trade).
On the matter of international trade for commercial purposes, as was presented and approved by Cabinet recently, this will only be allowed if approved by the Conference of Parties. Currently, international trade in rhino horn for commercial purposes is prohibited and this prohibition can only be lifted, if agreed by the CoP. To ensure Parties to CITES are able to make a decision relating to this matter, a proposal must be submitted for consideration by the Parties. More....