Today the South African high court ruled the selling of rhino horns to be legal within the country, placing an already endangered animal in even greater jeopardy.
The ban on rhino horn is being lifted after a year in which poachers killed more than 1,000 of the endangered rhinos. Seventy percent of the rhino population resides in South Africa, and poaching has increased dramatically in the past decade. With the lifting of the rhino horn ban, many conservationists fear that poaching will increase even further. “We will see a significant rise in poaching, as poachers use the significant loopholes to cater to the increased demand for horn in the Far East,” said Morgan Griffiths, of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, in National Geographic.
Supporters of the legalization of rhino horn trade believe that the use of rhino farms, where they can trim off the rhino’s horn which grows back in three years, will put an end to the over poaching of these animals.
Most conservationists disagree. They believe the lifting of the ban will lead to even more demand for the endangered rhino’s horns.
“Legalizing domestic rhino horn trade in South Africa opens the door to further illegal exports of rhino horn,” Susie Watts of WildAid‘s Africa Program, told The Dodo in a statement. “There is no domestic demand for rhino horn products and, as the pro-trade lobby very well knows, the reason why the moratorium was implemented in the first place was to prevent domestic trade from being used as a cover for smuggling.”