Legalising international trade in rhino horn will stem the slaughter of the species, MPs heard on Tuesday.
The 35-year Cites (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) ban on rhino horn has not stopped the poachers, said ANC MP Johnny de Lange, who is also chairperson of Parliament's environmental affairs portfolio committee.
Speaking during debate in the National Assembly on the department's R5.4-billion budget, he said government would seek approval for lifting the ban at the 17th Cites conference, set to be held in South Africa in 2016.
"The data suggests that banning of legal, open trade in rhino horn has not resulted in reduced demand for the horn, and has not helped save the rhino from imminent extinction. Escalation in the slaughter of rhino is proof of this.
"Consumers simply do not believe that rhino horn has no medicinal value, no matter how many times we say so. Using increasingly sophisticated means, poaching syndicates have capitalised on the Cites ban to supply what appears to be a resurgent market demand," De Lange said.
More than 360 rhino have been killed by poachers in South Africa since the beginning of this year. Between 2007 and February last year the country lost 1460 rhino to poachers.
South Africa is home to 83 percent of Africa's rhino, with 18 910 white and 2044 black rhino.
The powdered horn, which finds an eager market in many Asian countries, is reportedly worth more, by weight, than gold, selling for as much as $65 000 (about R630 000) a kilogramme. More....