#ShockWildlifeTruths: Plans for second rhino online auction underway

2017-09-05 13:51 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - While conservationists fear that the first legal rhino horn auction in South Africa may boost demand for illegal trade, plans for a second one are already underway.  

According to a post by animal rights group, Save the Rhino on Twitter, the Private Rhino Owners’ Association has indicated that the next rhino horn auction could take place within 2-3 months.

The tweet states, "PROA Chair: next rhino horn auction could take place within 2-3 months, estimates Hume's auction fetched US$10k/kg." 

Although Department of Environmental Affairs attempted to stop the auction by refusing to issue the required certificates for domestic trade, which it says was issued by a DEA official who had not authorisation to do so - the first auction is said to have been a "success". 

SEE: UPDATE: DEA forced to oversee online auction of 264 rhino horn, going ahead due to permit 'error'

Although fewer than expected bidders participated, the Private Rhino Owners’ Association (PROA) has branded the event as a huge breakthrough for rhino owners and their efforts to fight the scourge of poaching.

Private rhino horn owner, John Hume says although the auction's result is a setback to achieving a legal, commercial trade in horn to replace poached horn in supplying demand in the main markets, he had triumphed and that a legal and sustainable supply has been established. 

The auction yielded few 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. Hume says he will comply with his reporting duties to the DEA in accordance with the conditions of the auction permit.

However the names of those who participated in the sale will not be made available. A statement by Hume says, “All the bidders were duly authorised to participate in the auction and were issued with the legally required permits to do so." see the full statement here

SEE:  #ShockWildlifeTruths: SA kids speak out on rhino horn trade

Controversy remains

In August Traveller24 did a poll to find out what the public thought of the rhino horn online auction. Some 4 675 votes were cast saying that, like ivory, the online auction won’t work to reduce illegal trade and poaching. 

In contrast, 2 975 votes agree that this auction would actually create a loophole for illegal trade. A total of 1 369 votes suggested that this auction will decrease rhino poaching.

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: Rhino horn online auction pros and cons, readers respond

Rhino crisis highlighted

SEE: Wildlife Act responds to John Hume ahead of delayed online rhino horn auction

While the long-term benefits of whether this legal route will ultimately lead to the demise of preservation of the species, controversy around the issue remains. 

In the midst of the controversial rhino horn online auction, Kruger National Park rangers were involved in two contact incidents with suspected poachers on Friday 18 August, and Sunday 20 August, in the southern part of the park near Mkhuhlu and Cork areas.

SEE: Kruger Poaching War: two attempts stopped as online auction commences

Poachers also attacked Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in KwaZulu-Natal, which has subsequently decided to close down after a heavily armed gang hit the orphanage on the night of 21 February. 

SEE:  Elephant Whisperer's rhino orphanage closure a blow for anti-poaching in SA

In June, SA’s special investigative police unit arrested poaching suspects at OR Tambo International Airport who were trying to smuggle rhino horn out of the country. The two alleged smugglers were arrested on 12 June and 10 rhino horn, valued at R2.8 million, were recovered.

SEE: Minister of Environmental Affairs welcomes arrest of rhino horn traffickers

While government says it is doing all it can to reduce poaching and increase arrests, some conservationists have alleged that there is massive corruption within the court system, resulting in the release of several suspects or the engineering of ongoing delays in trials that go nowhere - while poachers are becoming more brazen in their attack and going unpunished.

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