Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:18 pm

S. Africa opposes online rhino horn auction
Rhino horn is worth more than gold or cocaine per kilo on the black market

South Africa on Friday moved to halt an online auction of rhino horn starting next week, as outraged conservationists said the sale would undermine the global ban on rhino trade.

The three-day auction by South African John Hume, who runs the world’s biggest rhino farm, comes after a ban on domestic trade in the country was lifted three months ago.

Hume’s lawyer Izak du Toit claimed the permits had already been approved — but not issued.

The High Court in Pretoria started hearing the case on an urgent basis on Friday.

The court is expected to make a decision on Sunday, shortly before to the auction is scheduled to open at midday (1000 GMT) on Monday, officials said.

“The Minister of Environmental Affairs is opposing the application,” the government said in a statement on Friday, declining to comment further.

Hume and some other campaigners say poaching can only be halted by meeting the huge demand from Asia through legally “harvesting” horn from anaesthetised live rhinos.

He has stockpiles of six tonnes of horns and wants to place 500 kilogrammes or 264 horns, under the hammer.

South Africa is home to around 20,000 rhinos, some 80 percent of the worldwide population, but in recent years has suffered record slaughter by poachers.

Rhino horn is composed mainly of keratin, the same component as in human nails.

It is sold in powdered form as a supposed cure for cancer and other diseases — as well as an aphrodisiac — in Vietnam and China.

While any auctioned horn could not exported from South Africa, conservationists fear the sale will stimulate black market demand and undermine the four-decade old international ban on rhino trading.

The auction website is in English, but also in Chinese and Vietnamese.

– A fair price? –

Joseph Okori, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), described the auction as “deplorable”.

“There is deliberate motive to target people in countries where people consume rhino horns,” Okori told AFP.

Rhino horns are highly prized, estimated to fetch up to $60,000 a kilo on the black market – more than the price of gold or cocaine.

Johan Van Eyk of Van’s Auctioneers who will conduct the auction said there is no set opening price because this will be the first ever rhino horn auction.

“We will have to look at what people are willing to pay and that will give us an idea of the price on the legal market,” Van Eyk told AFP.

The association of private rhino owners is banking on the planned auction to determine demand and the “fair market” value of the horn, according to its president Pelham Jones.

Hume is also planning a physical auction in September.

South Africa has over 300 private rhino breeders who say they have spent more than two billion rand ($150 million) to protect their herds over the past nine years.

The farmers hope to recuperate expenses from the sale of the horns taken by dehorning rhinos.

“The (security) burden has now become so severe that many rhino reserves simply cannot afford any longer,” said Jones.

But for animal rights activists, the legal sale of rhino horns will only fuel poaching.

“It’s going to exacerbate it,” said Dex Kotze, a South African wildlife activist. “Is this a money making scheme or do they want to save the rhino?” ... servation/

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:14 pm

How come that it is legal? Has Mr. Hume found a loop hole in the law or is there something else :-?

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:22 pm

Personally I quite agree with selling horns, as nothing else is working? At least Mr Hume is trying the legal route? -O-

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:09 pm

It is all a way to get purchasers who can find a way to export the horns IMO 0=

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:49 am

Online rhino horn auction postponed to Wednesday

The Pretoria High Court ruled on Sunday that the DEA must hand over the permits for the auction.

MBOMBELA – The planned auction of 264 rhino horn online, which was set to commence today at 12:00, has been postponed.

Van’s Auctioneers confirmed to Lowvelder this morning that, due to them receiving their permits for the auction only this morning, it was decided to postpone it.

It is now set to start at 14:00 on Wednesday.

Online rhino horn auction set to start on Monday – Sunday August 20, 17:30

PRETORIA – The High Court ruled on Sunday afternoon that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) must hand over the permits it has approved for John Hume’s planned auction to go ahead tomorrow.

Hume announced the three-day auction recently. It is set to run from 12:00 on Monday.

His lawyer, Izak du Toit, told Lowvelder that the permits were issued by the department on August 10, but never delivered. The urgent court application was to receive it.

They are planning to make 264 rhino horn available for sale during the auction.

Du Toit said they were due to pick up the permit at 07:30 on Monday, and then meet to discuss logistics, given that they will “receive the permits on the day of the planned auction”.

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:38 pm

Why allowing the sale of horn stockpiles is a setback for rhinos in the wild


South Africa lost over 1000 rhinos to poaching last year. Shutterstock

A South African court has ordered the government to release a permit to the world’s largest rhino breeder, John Hume. The permit will allow him to host a 3-day auction of his stockpiled rhino horn to local buyers.

Hume is the world’s largest private rhino breeder. He owns 1500 rhino, just over a twentieth of the total number believed still to be in the wild. South Africa lost over 1000 rhinos to poaching last year, predominantly in the Kruger Park and in KwaZulu-Natal. Hume says that the proceeds of the auction will go towards protecting his herd, which he says currently costs him USD$170,000 a month.

Hume had been granted a permit, but it was withdrawn by the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs. A South African Constitutional Court ruling in April lifted a moratorium on the domestic rhino horn trade, upholding a previous High Court ruling. Hume then filed another court application to have his permit reinstated, which was upheld on Sunday. Such permits allow the buying and selling of rhino horn provided that the horns remain in the country after the sale.

Both the High Court ruling and the more recent Constitutional Court ruling are disappointing. While the moratorium was lifted on procedural grounds, the substantive case for a moratorium is profound. There is no evidence of a domestic market for rhino horn. In addition, a domestic trade contradicts the rationale of an international ban.

It therefore seems specious at best to argue for a domestic trade for conservation purposes. The only rationale for purchasing rhino horn in South Africa would be to sell it on to markets in China and Vietnam. The price of horn in those countries is estimated to be in the region of USD$60,000/kg.

Hume has been banking on being able to sell his horn, or see the huge amount he invested in breeding be sunk for nought. He has fought hard to be allowed to sell horn from anaesthetised rhinos that have been dehorned.

He has won the court battle. But the rhino horn auction that has been permitted by the court is a serious setback in the fight against poaching and the probability of wild rhino survival. The chances of the horns remaining in the country is next to zero.

The arguments for and against

The case for selling off rhino horn is based on two arguments.

Firstly, that without private rhino ownership, the species would be even more imperilled. Private property, according to South Africa’s constitution, should allow one to buy and sell as one pleases. This view defines rhinos as a purely private, commercial good.

The second argument is that an international ban has been ineffective in combating rhino poaching. Therefore, the only way to overcome the negative effects of high prices, which induce poaching, is to flood the market with horn that is cut from a cultivated herd.

The first argument is philosophical and has severe practical implications. Rhinos are our collective heritage – a public good in one of the purest senses of that term. The joy derived from viewing rhinos in the wild – public parks – is indivisible. To reduce rhinos to purely commercial products is to destroy the argument for public parks and the public protection of wildlife.

Hume and his supporters would argue that this is a false dichotomy. But they have failed to make the case that flooding the market with horn from commercially bred rhinos will help to maintain the species in the wild. This is partly because of the flaw with the second argument.

The idea that commercially bred rhino horn will flood the market, depress prices and prevent further poaching is without basis in fact. The international ban on rhino horn trade appeared to be most effective until a sudden shock hit the market – the escalation of demand from Vietnam in around 2006. Before that, rhino poaching in South Africa was negligible.

It is disingenuous, at best, to argue that the ban against horn trading is responsible for the upsurge in poaching. There is also no evidence that the market can be satiated by attempting to flood it. The risk of exploding currently dormant demand is too high. It also seems that traders like Hume want it both ways – to sell the horn for a price that earns a handsome profit but not so high that it incentivises poaching. Where this equilibrium is cannot be ascertained. So, it’s hard to understand how the argument can be sustained.

A government whose general bureaucratic efficacy is questionable surely cannot be trusted to regulate rhino horn in the manner supposed by the court. If one considers, for instance, that South Africa’s State Security Minister, David Mahlobo, has been implicated in rhino horn smuggling, the odds are not promising.

Read original article: ... wild-82773

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:42 pm

provided that the horns remain in the country after the sale.

How and who is going to control every single horn and it's movements?

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:53 pm

Rhino horns under virtual hammer: Comment on the proposed online rhino horn auction



The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is watching with trepidation the brazen online rhino horn auction ( that was supposed to open today on Monday, 21 August 2017. John Hume, who is auctioning off 264 horns that have been harvested from rhinos that he farms, has undertaken a long battle with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to legalise this auction. Initially, he took DEA to the High Court and won, which ultimately led to the moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn being lifted, on the 30 March 2017. Then, yesterday, he was back in the High Court with an urgent appeal to get DEA to issue permits for his online auction. He reportedly was called by DEA and told that they had issued the permits, but DEA argued that the issuing official did not have the authority to do so, and thus the permits could not be released. He won this case too, and DEA will be issuing the permits to let his online auction start at midday today as planned; DEA will also be paying his legal costs. Hume has now won twice against DEA in court and both times on legal technicalities, not on the merit of the conservation motive. Today, minutes before the online auction was due to open, it has been postponed until Wednesday at 14:00 – allegedly to allow time for further permits to be issued.

The online auction has also faced backlash from hacktivists known as Anonymous, who sabotaged on 9 August 2017 and claimed to have taken control of all files and defaced the page. The page has since be reinstated. In all, five webpages were taken down by Anonymous in protest to this auction including and news sites African News Network 7 (ANN7) and The New Age (TNA).

- The EWT is very concerned that the legal trade in rhino horn will:

lead to laundering of illegal rhino horn into legal domestic trade, and that rhino horn (sourced both legally and illegally) will find its way into the illegal international market;
- tarnish South Africa’s international conservation reputation and potentially drive rhino populations to extinction in neighbouring countries and other range states;
- increase existing challenges in compliance and enforcement and nurture corruption; and
- increase consumer demand, leading to an upsurge in rhino poaching to satisfy a demand that cannot be met.
The EWT is further concerned that there are serious challenges with the monitoring and regulation of this trade, including:

- The expertise and capacity to implement, enforce and monitor legal compliance in respect of rhino and rhino horn specific permits are, for the most part, lacking.
- Current legislation is insufficient, as acknowledged by the Minister of Environmental Affairs (Minister Edna Molewa moves to restate government position regarding the domestic trade in rhino horn, 17 August 2017 ... ohorntrade). Although she states that other regulatory measure are being put in place, these are, however, all in draft format and several months away from implementation.
- No effective permit monitoring system is in place; the proposed electronic permitting system is, to the best of our knowledge, not fully functional and has not been tested in real-life situations.

Furthermore, the EWT is concerned about the possible negative consequences for the fight against organised crime in South Africa, in that:

- The illegal trade in rhino horn has been linked to transnational organised crime; legalising the trade will, in effect, make it easier for these criminals to operate within South Africa.
- South Africa is putting considerable effort into disrupting and dismantling wildlife trafficking networks in the country and beyond, and these activities must not be damaged or compromised. It is of grave concern that a legal trade in rhino horn in South Africa may facilitate these syndicates to operate under the auspices of legal trade.

The premise that the sale of rhino horn will remove pressure from wild populations and provide an avenue for satisfying some demand in a legal manner is not based on any published research. There is very little known about levels of consumer demand, illegal trade routes, and the effects of legal trade on these, and, as such, the risk of unintended consequences is unacceptably high.

We believe that everything in our power must be done to protect our rhinos, but that the priorities should be focused on activities that will have long-term positive impacts on the conservation of rhinos, including breaking transnational organised crime networks, reducing demand for horn, and improving border security. The rhino horn auction taking place today contributes to none of these priorities. The sale of rhino horn does not address the issues faced by rhinos in the long term and may even escalate demand and poaching.


Dr Kelly Marnewick Senior Trade Officer Wildlife in Trade Programme Endangered Wildlife Trust Tel: 082 477 4470 or 011 372 3600 ext 594

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: 011 372 3600 ext 110

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:09 pm

Thanks, Lis!

Mr Hume was on radio today explaining that there are 40 000 ethnic Chinese in SA, which is the target market. That is a new thing! -O-

So that is where "local trade" fits in! ..0..

Selling 200-odd horns a year will keep his 1500 rhino viable, the largest private population in the world, obviously.

But his main point was that nothing else is working to stop poaching, which one can't really argue with. One may argue that poaching is going down in Kruger, but the nationwide figure remains at around 3 animals per day.

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:43 pm

Richprins wrote:Thanks, Lis!

Mr Hume was on radio today explaining that there are 40 000 ethnic Chinese in SA, which is the target market. That is a new thing! -O-

So that is where "local trade" fits in! ..0..
Makes sense and up to them to export the horns 0*\ :evil: 0= @#$