Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:03 pm

The rhino in the room: South Africa’s domestic trade in rhino horn

Written by Peter Knights, co-founder and CEO of WildAid

On the surface, the upcoming legal auction of rhino horn set to begin on August 21 might appear to be a harmless propaganda exercise, but it may in fact signal a deepening of the rhino crisis.

The domestic market for rhino horn in South Africa is small, and history shows that criminals will exploit all possible loopholes to obtain horn for trafficking to markets abroad. Further, the track record of South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in regulating legal trade in rhino horn does not instil confidence.

The recent rhino poaching crisis was triggered about a decade ago as new uses for horn – and new ways of obtaining horn – emerged in Vietnam. Vietnamese criminals, working with South African hunters, realised that they could import rhino “hunting trophies” into Vietnam with little or no oversight. This was replicated in China, and provided a means for traffickers to supply horns to East Asian markets. The practice now known as “pseudo-hunting,” was allowed to continue for years without action from the DEA. Although the commercial sale of hunting trophies was prohibited, South African authorities had no way to regulate what was done with trophy horns once they left the country. This will also be the case with horns purchased at auction.

ImageIs the upcoming legal auction of rhino horn likely to leave the future of rhinos in the dust? ©Janine Avery

Between 20 and 25% of South Africa’s rhinos are in the possession of private rhino owners, many of whom have stockpiled large quantities of horn from natural deaths and de-horning live rhinos. They portray the forthcoming horn auction as strictly for South Africa-based buyers and, therefore, within the law. Yet the auction has been advertised in Chinese and Vietnamese, leading to confusion and arousing suspicion. These mixed messages have caused the DEA to issue a statement reaffirming that international trade in rhino horn remains banned.

A moratorium on domestic horn sales was in effect in South Africa from 2009 until it was overturned earlier this year upon legal challenge from private owners. Prior to the moratorium, an average of only 100 kilograms of horns were sold domestically each year, according to a 2014 DEA report. While the figure was believed to be a low estimate, it is agreed that the domestic market is small, with limited demand for horn. Therefore, there is little to gain financially from an auction targeted solely at domestic bidders.

Previous sales that occurred before the moratorium indicate a likelihood that horns will be trafficked abroad. The same 2014 DEA report includes information from seven unnamed private rhino owners who sold horns prior to the 2009 moratorium. One stated that the buyers were Chinese, and that s/he suspected that the horns were taken to China. Three others indicated suspicions that the horns purchased had been smuggled out of the country to be traded on the black market. The three remaining sellers were “unsure” of what happened to their horns.

By opening a “domestic” trade in rhino horn with this auction, there is a real threat that without credible enforcement these horns will fuel the rampant international trade and sustain the poaching crisis. While rhino poaching has started to decline slightly in South Africa, far too many rhinos are being killed for their horns. In recent years, more than 1,000 of the country’s remaining 20,000 rhinos have been lost to poachers annually, and high-level traffickers continue to evade prosecution.

At the opposite end of the trade chain, campaigns to reduce rhino demand in Asia have been showing signs of progress. Horns are now being sold at around one-third of previously reported levels. Opening up a new source of horn through “domestic” auctions in South Africa may well re-stimulate consumer demand, just as “pseudo-hunting” did before it.

At this critical moment for Africa’s rhinos, we would do well to remember the hard lesson learned from legal ivory sales. Although intended to satiate Asian demand, legal ivory sales ignited it instead. About 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their ivory as the international community attempts to correct its mistake.

Conservationists fear that the majority of the rhino horn sold at the upcoming “domestic” auction will be taken out of the country. Sellers must also be aware this, and the DEA would have to be extremely naive to think that the bidders will be buying purely for the domestic market. We should acknowledge the presence of the rhino in the room and recognise the proposed auction for what it is: the first stage of a wider plan to legalise the export of rhino horn, a plan that the DEA has already put in motion.

Private commercial considerations have been elevated over conserving wildlife, and this is evident in almost all decisions that the DEA makes. The commercial tail continues to wag the policy dog at the expense of Africa’s rhinos.

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:23 pm

There is even an article ( short ) on the online Auction in our local paper.

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:22 pm

Fact remains, whatever price the auctioned manages
to generate, poachers will be prepared to operate just
below that, still making a killing for profit,.

What a mess, something our honorable one will never
understand!!! Why, because her mindset operating in
radical transformation mode!!! Our dear one taking advice
from those at WATS,.

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:38 pm

Will dissect later, but lots of criticism with no alternative solutions... O**

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:43 pm

Leave them where they are..........or burn them :twisted:

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:39 pm

I may add,...

Rhino baron shifts blame for ‘disappointing’ first horn auction

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:42 pm

No Mr. Hume, your mentality, first world, integrity
3rd world!!! For goodness sake what did you ever
expect it to be !!!???

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:49 pm

Rhino baron shifts blame for ‘disappointing’ first horn auction
26 August 2017 - 14:25 By Tony Carnie

South African rhino baron John Hume has lashed out against Environmental Affair Minister Edna Molewa‚ blaming her for the “disappointing” results of what was the world’s first online rhino horn auction.

Hume would not disclose how many horns he sold – nor what prices they fetched – during the much-publicised auction‚ which began on Wednesday and closed late on Friday. Nor did he reveal the identity of the bidders.

As part of the online sale‚ Hume advertised 264 horns‚ weighing almost 500kg‚ to local and foreign buyers on a local website translated into Chinese and Vietnamese.

“The auction yielded fewer bidders and fewer sales than anticipated‚ but the legal domestic trade has now been re-established and the road has been paved for future sales‚” he said in a statement issued by his attorney‚ Izak du Toit‚ at the weekend.

He argued that Molewa obstructed the auction from going ahead until the last moment‚ only issuing a sale permit to him under orders from the High Court the day before the auction was set to begin. This‚ he said‚ discouraged buyers from registering timeously.
Government silent as controversial online rhino horn auction goes ahead
The world’s first allegedly legal online auction of rhino horns by South African rhino breeder John Hume drew to a close late on Friday amid ...

Hume‚ 75‚ a former holiday resorts and property developer from Johannesburg‚ now owns an 8‚000 ha farm in North West province where he ranches and “harvests” horns from his 1‚500 rhinos on a regular basis. He says horns are removed without pain or blood‚ by carefully sawing them off above the growth tissue plate while the animals are under sedation‚ allowing them to regrow naturally.

Though he has been vilified by several conservation and animal welfare groups which accuse him of seeking to profit from the rhino conservation crisis‚ Hume argues that legal horn trading could ultimately prevent rhinos from being poached to extinction.

In his formal statement‚ Hume said the auction was hampered by having to go to court for an urgent order against Molewa and her department‚ who “appeared to make every effort to derail the auction and to discourage participation therein”.

“Our client however persisted to enforce his constitutional rights and this resulted in the conclusion of this historical and ground-breaking event. Despite the supposed concerns published by the department prior to the auction and despite the fact that Mr Hume only received the auction permit on the morning that bidding was scheduled to commence‚ our client achieved what he set out to do more than eight years ago: the establishment of a legal trade in a renewable natural resource to generate desperately needed funding to protect rhino as a species under siege‚” the statement said.

Hume would now comply with his reporting duties to the department in accordance with the conditions of the auction permit.

“We do not intend to publish the names of the purchasers or the prices achieved at the auction at this stage‚ out of respect for the privacy and confidentiality of the purchasers. We however assure the public that all bidders were duly authorised to participate in the auction and were issued with the legally required permits to so participate.

“The fact that very few bidders were willing to sign up for the auction can only be attributed to the unlawful delay in handing over the auction permit and the consequential limited time of less than two days for bidders to register‚” he said‚ noting that “many” of the auction lots were still available via Van’s Auctioneers in Gauteng.

“The department almost succeeded in enforcing the invalid rhino horn trade moratorium‚ but our client persisted and triumphed. Clearly the demand for rhino horn remains and our rhino are still being slaughtered by the thousands‚ but as from today a legal and sustainable supply has been established. No longer will rhino need to be killed for their horn. No longer shall the supply come exclusively from dead rhino. From this day live rhino shall become more valuable than dead rhino. Despite government bullying tactics and illogical unsustainable animal rights propaganda‚ we will continue our fight to bring this dark trade into the light in order to conserve our rhinos‚” Hume proclaimed in his statement.

Molewa’s spokesman‚ Albi Modise‚ did not respond to requests for comment‚ indicating a statement could be issued on Monday. ... n-auction/

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:45 am

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

By Caroline on 27 August 2017

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.

Ross Harvey, Senior Researcher in Natural Resource Governance (Africa), South African Institute of International Affairs

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Re: Online Rhino Horn Auction in SA Legal

Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:56 am

If poached horns can get out of the country also the legally bought ones can -O-