The highest court in South Africa has lifted the ban over rhino horn trade within the country.
Those who appealed for the ban to be overturned were private rhino breeders, who claimed that such a move would help prevent poaching. So technically, South Africa just legalized the cutting of rhino horns.
Following the overturning of the ban, National Geographic photographer David Chancellor posted this gruesome image of a dehorned white rhino.
He also wrote about the photo and the judgement:
“A white rhino is dehorned at the world’s largest captive breeding operation in South Africa. The farm houses approx 1,261 rhinos, four per cent of the global population, with a breeding rate of just under 200 a year.
Today South Africa’s constitutional court has rejected an attempt by the government to keep a ban on the domestic trade in rhino horns. The ruling that the application be dismissed means that rhino horns can effectively be traded in the country. Rhino breeders argue that legalising the trade could cut the number of rhinos slaughtered as horns can be sawn off anaesthetised live animals. However many conservationists disagree with the proposed policy. The department of environmental affairs said authorities were still considering the implications of Wednesday’s judgment “It is important to note that permits are required to sell or buy rhino horn,” the department’s spokesman, Albie Modise, said in a statement. The ruling only applies to the industry in South Africa as a ban on international trade remains in force. Rhino breeders who have argued that open trade is the only way to prevent widespread slaughter of the animal welcomed the ruling, breeders also argue that the process is not permanent as the horns grow back. South Africa is thought to be home to around 20,000 rhinos, around 80% of the worldwide population. More than 1,000 rhino were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2016.”
Reacting to the photo, people expressed their shock and anger with the judgement:
The ban was in place since 2009. Rhino breeders were elated with the decision but neither the government nor wildlife conservationists.
In fact, conservationists were crestfallen by the decision and said that this will give impetus to the illegal trade of the horns.
“Given that there is no existing market for rhino horn in South Africa, lifting the domestic trade ban could very easily spur increased illegal international activity,” Leigh Henry, an expert in species conservation at the World Wildlife Fund, told NYT.
The white rhinoceros is one of the world’s most beautiful beasts and the largest extant species of the rhinoceros.
There are two subspecies of the white rhino – northern white rhino and the southern white rhino. While there are only three northern white rhinos left, there are around 20,000 southern white rhinos. Rampant poaching in the more lawless and poor North Africa has led to the near extinction of the northern white rhino.
Like the bones of a tiger, the horn of a rhino is used for traditional medicines in China.
It is, in fact, the demand in the Chinese market which has led to a wave of poaching of both tigers and rhinos.
Reminder: China has an estimated *7* wild tigers left. Many more in this video = obviously a tiger farm. They’ll be turned into bone & wine https://t.co/7hxmkSDei2
— John R Platt (@johnrplatt) February 23, 2017
In China, tigers are held captive in slaughter farms where their bones and pelt are traded. In February this year, the world saw a video of one such farm in Harbin in which a group of Siberian tigers are seen taking down a drone. It appears, South Africa is heading towards an almost similar path.