Rhino horn stockpiles in South Africa currently total more than 18 tons, environmental affairs confirmed on Wednesday.
These included 16,347 kilograms in government stockpiles and 2091kg in private hands, the department's deputy director general for biodiversity, Fundisile Mketeni, told reporters in Pretoria.
"This is where we stand as we speak," he said, adding that an audit of private stockpiles was still ongoing.
Earlier, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said South Africa was hoping to obtain international approval for a "once-off sale" of the stockpiled horns.
"South Africa cannot continue to be held hostage by the syndicates slaughtering our rhino," she said. Her department believed a well-regulated international trade in rhino horn, together with other measures, could destroy the booming black market trade and help curb poaching.
Close to 450 rhino had been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year, well over half of them in the Kruger National Park (KNP). Molewa warned that if poaching continued to increase at the rate it was, then 2026 would be "the year we possibly see the beginning of extinction of rhino".
Last week, Cabinet approved the development and submission of a proposal to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to introduce regulated international trade in rhino horn. More....