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Harmful Rhino Horn Auction in SA

Endangered species are still threatened despite technicalities imposed by the South African High Court.


BOSTON - AUGUST 29th, 2017 – South Africa’s legal online auction for rhino horns began on Wednesday, August 23rd. The South African High Court has permitted the world’s largest rhino breeder, John Hume, to sell rhino horn. An international ban on the trade of rhino horn is still in place, but the lift of the domestic rhino horn trade in South Africa was granted this past April. FOUR PAWS calls on the South African High Court to reinstate the full ban to protect these endangered animals and to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the permit issued.


FOUR PAWS – the international animal welfare organization – is outraged by the legal online rhino horn auction. A statement from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs indicated the permit for the auction was issued by “an official who believed they had the authority to do so.” FOUR PAWS does not believe the permit should have been issued and is concerned that with the new market opening, poachers and consumers will increase their demand for horns.


Each year, 1,000 rhinos are slaughtered for their horns. In this particular online auction, over 250 horns are for sale. “When you translate the number of horns into how many living, breathing, defenseless animals were harmed, this is an alarming number,” shared Robert Ware, FOUR PAWS USA Executive Director.


Although international consumers cannot purchase, domestic purchase in South Africa through the auction is allowed. What concerns FOUR PAWS about the auction‚ aside from the obvious, is that the auction was also advertised in Mandarin and Vietnamese on the website. Languages such as Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, or any other official South African language were not used on the site.


This auction encourages poachers to perform outlandish acts against these poor creatures and might encourage other countries to lift their bans as well. If this were to be done, the effects would be drastic. “At what point can we say enough is enough? We need to protect our world’s endangered species," remarked Ware. "FOUR PAWS believes the only appropriate response to this event is for the South African government to reinstate a full ban on the domestic trade of Rhino horn. The government needs to act."


If you are looking for a way to show support for the endangered animals that fall victim to poaching, please consider contacting local government representatives to show your support. Sign petitions that encourage South African law makers to do the same. Most importantly, research ethical travel options when visiting the country or purchasing souvenirs.