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Special announcement: Rhinoceros horn trade returns to South Africa
Soon it will be legal again to buy and sell rhinoceros horn within South Africa. The country's constitutional court denied an appeal by the government to uphold the ban on trade, the South African government confirmed.
This is the end of a protracted legal battle in which rhinoceros owners who want to keep rhinos like farm animals and are allowed to sell their supplies of rhinoceros horn against the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Environment Agency) the government, which imposed a trade freeze in 2009 after a surge in poaching. Lower courts agreed with the rhinoceros farmers, but the ban persisted as the government's appeal lawsuit worked its way up the courts. Aware that they could lose, the government prepared for legalization earlier this year by issuing new draft regulations aimed at regulating trade. These state that anyone with a permit can buy and sell rhinoceros horn, and that foreigners are allowed to export a maximum of two horns "for personal use".
The ban on international commercial trade, which is regulated by an international treaty, remains in place.
South Africa is home to 70 percent of the world's 29,500 rhinos affected by an acute poaching crisis. Many conservationists worry that legalizing domestic trade will only worsen problems for the animals that are becoming extinct.
"If these regulations become public, we will see a significant increase in poaching as poachers take advantage of the gaping loopholes to meet the demand for rhinoceros horn in the Far East," said Morgan Griffiths of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa National Geographic earlier this year.
The demand for horns made from the same material as fingernails comes mainly from Vietnam and China, where they are intricately carved or mistakenly used as a panacea in traditional medicine. Rhino poaching has skyrocketed over the past decade. Last year, 1,054 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa, a few fewer than last year, but still a giant leap from the mere 13 in 2007.
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