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South Africa’s ban on the domestic trade in rhino horns has been lifted by the high court in Pretoria.

© Janine Avery
© Janine Avery

A full bench of three judges, led by Judge Francis Legodi, heard the application. Judge Francis Legodi in his judgement said, “The extent of smuggling or illegal export or rhino horns due to lack of implementation of the applicable measures is not known. But what disastrous implications would be brought about by the immediate lifting of the moratorium? I cannot think of any. The solution appears to lie in the effective implementation of applicable and envisaged measures.”

The application for the moratorim on the domestic trade in rhino horn to be lifted was led by two of the country’s largest rhino farmers. The two were John Hume, who calls himself the single largest private rhino owner and breeder in the world, and wildlife rancher Johan Kruger. Hume, who farms in the area south of the Kruger National Park, allegedly told the court he could no longer afford to spend R5 million a month to preserve his herd and would be forced to dispose of 1,200 rhinos if the ban remained in place.

The pair also challenged the validity of the moratorium on various grounds, including that the minister did not follow the process of public participation before imposing the moratorium.

It was argued on behalf of Hume, that it was said that the moratorium would only be in place for about six months. Six years later it was still in place.

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