Minister Edna Molewa responds to renewed call for an immediate rhino hunting moratorium

18 February 2016


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa has received a letter from Allison Thomson, Director of the Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP), expressing concern about “the continued hunting of both white and black rhinoceros.”

While the Minister appreciates concerns from organisations such as OSCAP and their partners about the status of rhino populations in South Africa, it should be understood / noted that the implementation of interventions to address the illegal killing of rhino and the illegal trade in rhino horn does not preclude the legal, sustainable utilisation of the species.

The public can be assured that the conservation of the species remains a priority for government and this is evident from the implementation, since August 2014, of the Integrated Strategic Management approach for rhino, following its adoption by the Cabinet.  This approach addresses not only the illegal killing of rhino and the illegal trade of rhino horn, but also the management of rhino populations, long-term sustainability measures, game-changing interventions to bring about an end to rhino poaching and national, regional and international cooperation to end the cross-border crime of rhino poaching.

Government, through the Department of Environmental Affairs and other relevant government departments, has introduced numerous legislative and policy measures to address the increase in rhino poaching in South Africa.

With regard to the call for a moratorium on the hunting of white and black rhino in South Africa, it should be noted that the Scientific Authority, which is responsible for the monitoring of trade in specimens of listed threatened or protected species, published a draft Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) for white rhino for public comment in 2013.  The final NDF, which is expected to be published in the government gazette soon, finds that the legal international trade in live rhino and the export of hunting trophies poses a low risk to the survival of the species in South Africa and should be allowed to continue. The Scientific Authority will continue to monitor the situation and will advise should interventions, such as a restriction on hunting be required.

In addition, the public was called on in January 2016 to comment on the gazetted Draft Amendment of the norms and standards for the marking of rhinoceros and rhinoceros horn, and the hunting of rhinoceros for trophy hunting purposes. The amendment clarifies and strengthens certain clauses contained in the 2012 Norms and Standards, especially in respect of the movement and safekeeping of rhino horns and the management of the hunting of both white and black rhino. The public comments received are presently being reviewed and the Amendments are expected to be finalised in the coming months.

Minister Molewa has assured OSCAP and South Africans, that the Rights in terms of Section 24 of the Constitution of South Africa to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development, will be upheld.

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