Published On: Mon, Dec 7th, 2015

A Judge Overturned South Africa’s Rhino Ban—Or Did He?

1Buying and selling rhino horn in South Africa may be legal again in the near future: Two rhino breeders, with thousands of pounds of stockpiled rhino horn, just won their suit to lift the moratorium on the domestic trade that has been in place since 2009.

The judge ordered the ban be set aside, and it was—but in keeping with legal practice, it was almost immediately reinstated when Minister of the Environment Edna Molewa filed an appeal with South Africa’s Supreme Court.

The lifting of the ban, though short-lived, is important because South Africa is considering asking for the ban on international trade in rhino horn to be lifted next year. This ruling will be seen by many as a sign that South Africa’s powerful hunting and wildlife breeding industry may have the power to nudge South Africa into making the big ask.

The ruling is good news to those who support the legalization of trade. South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world’s rhinos, and poaching to supply the Asian market for medicinal uses and status-symbol products. A legal trade helps satisfy demand, and when supply is high, prices stay low, minimizing the incentive to poach.

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