Recently, South Africa’s Constitutional Court threw a rather punishing blow to the protection of rhinoceros. The court ruled that the domestic sale and harvesting of rhinoceros’ horns is legal, overturning the government’s protection of the endangered creature and its prized horn. However, this ruling does not affect the international ban on the harvesting and selling of rhinoceros’ horns as its still considered a banned act and market. Yet, the South African department of environmental affairs did voice there are still strict rules on the rhino horn trade and its markets.
The environmental minister of South Africa informed both the global and domestic audience that “the court’s ruling should not be construed to mean that the domestic trade in rhino horn may take place in an unregulated fashion” (NPR). Thus, the Environmental affairs minister made it extremely clear that to participate in the collecting and selling of rhino horn one would need a permit to do so. In response to the verdict, the international rhino foundation has expressed great displeasure with the verdict stating that it is entirely negligent if there are no protocols put into place. Furthermore, many local ranchers that raise rhinos and harvest their horns and stock the horns like a commodity have sued the South African Government numerous times. Yet, critics have made the counter argument that there is little to no true demand domestically for the so-called commodity.
Moreover, domestically speaking now the prohibition of the harvesting and distribution of the horns from rhinos has been put to the side by the South African Government. This comes after a year in which it had been reported that poachers had pouched nearly 1, 000 rhinos, which by many accounts and estimates is essentially a reduction from 2015. Moreover, the South African authorities have arrested 680 poachers and trackers, which is double the amount in 2015. These numbers come from the South African government’s data collection, which was released in February of this year.
In addition, in the last few months the South African department of environmental affairs has been actively participating in suggesting policy recommendations to make the domestic harvesting and distribution of Rhino horns legalized. However, the government has been receiving staunch opposition from numerous conservationist groups and organizations. Furthermore, the market for rhino horns is a lucrative business. The cause for the profitably of the business is that in Asian medicines the rhino horn has pharmaceutical benefits. Therefore, the high demand has made the price of rhino horns skyrocket immensely.