We inform the public of the deadline to submit public comments relating to the Regulations on domestic trade in Rhino Horn, on the 21st of October. See the LINK 


The Director-General,

Department of Environmental Affairs.


Ms Magdel Boshoff Deputy Director,

Threatened or Protected Species Policy Development.

Private Bag X447 Pretoria.



Re: Government Gazette, 21 September 2018, Vol 639, No. 41919 -Objections to:

1. Draft Regulations Relating to Domestic Trade in Rhinoceros Horn.

2. Draft Prohibitions Relating to the Carrying out of Certain Restricted Activities Involving Rhinoceros Horn.

3. Proposed Amendment of the Alien and Invasive Species List and List of Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable and Protected Species.

Dear Ms Boshoff,

the following undersigned organizations would like to formally submit by the deadline on October the 21st 2018, the following general and specific comments:

a. General Comments:

For many years African rhinos have been poached increasingly to a current rate of three per day, and their horns smuggled out of the country. In this scenario, we oppose any permit to export rhino horn in any form, from South Africa.

We also strongly support, for the same reasons, a total ban in any domestic trading and believe that rhino horn trade should not be legalized at all, not until there is convincing and solid evidence indicating that legalization would enhance wild rhino conservation efforts, instead of trying to meet the demand, in particular by Asian consumers, including illegal traders and criminal syndicates.

Worryingly, the impacts of legalising trade are unknown and may have a negative impact on rhino conservation, putting more vulnerable Asian rhino populations even more at risk.

Indications from research on other high-value wildlife products has shown that legalising trade has not stopped the black market illegal trade which is also associated with organised crime including drugs, weapons and human trafficking.

Furthermore, we question ourselves on who is going to benefit from a South African domestic trading system in rhino horn, since South Africans are generally not interested in owning rhino horn. We fear that this domestic trading might help facilitate the smuggling and illegal export  of rhino horn to consumers, specifically, in Asia.

While global cooperation is essential and law enforcement across implicated borders is crucial to control poaching, South Africa remains the main source country for illegally traded horns, often illegally exported to consumer markets via Mozambique. South Africa, Mozambique, Viet Nam, China, Zimbabwe and recently also Namibia, are identified as countries of huge concern for rhino horn poaching and their significant illegal market.

b. Dehorning.

Dehorning and legalising the trade in rhino horn are being considered as possible deterrents to poaching. More research and a better understanding of all the components are necessary to make ethical, informed and responsible decisions. Rhinos use their horns for self-, calf-, and territorial defence, foraging, digging and displays. The effects of dehorning on behaviour and thus welfare and survivability have not been well researched. From the ethical point of view, it has been reported that dehorning, even when done with the best procedures results in being very traumatic and has been described as an invasive and cruel operation.

Dehorning procedures should be limited, monitored, recorded and scrutinized by animal welfare officials.

Dehorning rhino as a deterrent to poaching has limitations. A stub of horn remains and regrows in about 12, 18 months and sufficient horn remains to have ‘poaching’ value. Revenge killing and killing to reduce ‘need to track’ have been reported on dehorned rhino. Dehorning transfers instead of eliminating poaching risks, and in some scenarios may, in fact, push poaching into areas where rhino are not dehorned.

c. Rhino Welfare.

We are very concerned by the total lack of mention in this or other normative, over the need to control and monitor the welfare of rhinos kept on private land and during the procedures of dehorning when this is applied on wild, semi-wild or captive rhinos. Rhinos are also legally bred in South Africa on breeding farms. Unlike any typical farmed animal, wild animals bred in captivity in South Africa are not protected by any specific law and despite the Animal Protection Act, can easily fall victims of major cruelty.

d. Specific Comments:

We object, as indicated below, to the Draft Regulations Relating to Domestic Trade in Rhinoceros Horn, published in the Government Gazette No. 40601, Notice No. 74, 08 February 2017 in particular regulations 3(1)(a), 3(3), 4(1), 7(3), 10(2)(b), 12(2) and (3) and 13(1).

We also object to the Draft Notice Prohibiting the Carrying Out of Certain Restricted Activities Involving Rhinoceros Horn and, most important, in particular paragraphs 2(3)(b) and 2(5)(b);


Our Comments referring to Chapter 2, Restriction 3(1)(a) and Restriction 4(1),

any rhinoceros horn 5cm or more in length”:

* In addition to the length of the rhino horn removed, we would like these Normative to take into account the length of the front and back stub left on the animal after any dehorning procedure. Any safe removal must, in fact, leave at least 7 cm stub on the front and back horn.

* Considering the consistent poaching crisis relative to this item, we are deeply concerned about the normative not requesting any regulation referring to a documented origin for each piece of rhino horn traded.

A Certificate of Origin and Identity Number, maybe through the microchip and /or other electronic devices permanently implanted into the rhino horn, once harvested, could be a very appropriate solution to stop the smuggling of rhino horn out of the country.

A database should keep a record of all details relating to each horn or couple of  all horns:

We suggest the following:

  • Samples of DNA taken from each animal.

  • Stated whether it is a front horn or a back horn.

  • Stated whether the horn is harvested from a wild or captive bred rhino.

  •  Stated the sex of the rhino that the horn was harvested from,

  • Stated the age of the rhino.

  • Stated the owner’s personal details and the name of his/her farm, and district.

  • Stated whether it is a full horn or stub. (Measurements)

  • Details of the number of times the rhino has been dehorned.

  • Stated whether it was a recorded hunt of a rhino.

  • Recorded date and measurement of the stub remaining.

  • Name and practice number of the attending veterinarian.

  • We insist that an item of such value be clearly and undoubtedly identified with all details and certified with a system that prevents fraud, alteration and / or duplication.

Perhaps the government should consider Bio-Metric cards, that are tamper proof as an identification of particular details pertaining to specific purchases.

Our Comments referring to Chapter 2, Restriction 3(3) (a), (b), (c), (d) plus Restriction 7(3) and Restriction 10(2)(b):

a citizen of the Republic or with Permanent Residency in terms of the Immigration Act 2002”:

* Multiple researches, investigations and official data indicate how Asia is the dominant illegal market for rhinoceros horn. It is quite unacceptable that with a simple permanent residency in South Africa, any private individual or company/organization with origins in the countries listed as huge concerns, would be allowed to trade in rhino horn, domestically, in South Africa. The system is simply not safely implementable and the government does not have the capacity to control and monitor infractions. Any horn harvested legally could illegally and very easily be smuggled to Asia.

*We request the ban in domestic trading. If a domestic trade is permitted for very limited personal use, it should be imperative that each owner is a South African citizen who is strictly limited on how many horns he/she is allowed to purchase / sell / donate / exchange / per lifetime, with each transaction being imperatively registered in a database.

Our Comments referring to Chapter 3, Restriction 13(1)

“a person may export or re-export rhinoceros horn”:

* According to these Draft Normative, any person in contact with countries where there is a huge demand for legal and illegal rhino horn, once obtained a permanent residency in the Republic would be allowed to own rhino horn for unlimited “personal use” and also to export it with permits which can also be illegally duplicated. This simply cannot be supported.

Considering all the above, we firmly object and oppose to the proposal of allowing any export of rhino horn which should therefore be prohibited in any circumstance.

With kind regards,