LEGAL STATUS OF RHINO HORN TRADE

The Seller and the Auctioneer furnish the following guidelines regarding the legal status of the trade in rhino horn and all buyers are cautioned to thoroughly familiarise themselves with all the applicable laws and regulations relating thereto. This information document is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the legal requirements, instead it is offered as a guideline to assist buyers. The Seller and the Auctioneer accept no responsibility, liability or other legal consequences flowing from reliance on these guidelines. Buyers are referred to the terms and conditions of the auction, published elsewhere on this website.

BACKGROUND

The trade in rhino horn used to be legally permissible within the borders of South Africa and under the rules of CITES between the years 1977 and 2009. John Hume and various other private game farm owners actually traded in rhino horn, legally, during such period. On 13 February 2009 the South African government suspended the trade in rhino horn by imposing a Moratorium on such trade. In the year 2015 John Hume successfully obtained a court order declaring the said Moratorium invalid. The highest legal authority in South Africa, the Constitutional Court, confirmed such order and as a result thereof the trade in rhino horn is once again legally permissible within South Africa. The trade is however subject to legislation and regulations. Legislation and regulations to be considered by all buyers are as follows:

THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: BIODIVERSITY ACT, 10 OF 2004 (NEMBA)

  • (a) Chapter 1, Section 5 of this Act determines that the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is incorporated into South African law;
  • (b) Chapter 1, Section 1 of this Act contains definitions of the term “restricted activity” and the term “specimen”. Rhino horn falls within the definition of “specimen” and the trade in rhino horn falls within the ambit of a “restricted activity”.
  • (c) Chapter 7 of this Act regulates the process of permits and the issuing authorities responsible for such permits. The trade in rhino horn is subject to such permits.
  • (d) Chapter 4, Section 57 refers to threatened or protected species. Rhino is classified in South Africa as a threatened or protected species.

THE THREATENED OR PROTECTED SPECIES REGULATIONS, 2007 (TOPS)

  • (a) These Regulations provide a more detailed explanation of the process of applying for permits, the requirements for such permits, the conditions of such permits and various matters relating thereto. All buyers must take note of the requirements of TOPS.

THE CONVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES)

  • (a) This convention is not primarily aimed at regulating domestic affairs within South Africa. Instead it is aimed at regulating the international commercial trade in endangered species.
  • (b) CITES Resolution Conf. 13.7 (Rev.Cop17) relating to personal and household effects.

THE NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR THE MARKING OF RHINO AND RHINO HORN (NORMS AND STANDARDS)

  • (a) These regulations were promulgated under NEMBA and it must be read with TOPS. It describes the requirements for rhino horn to be marked in order to be traceable, by means of micro-chips and serial numbers. Buyers must familiarise themselves with these regulations but buyers may also accept that all the rhino horn being offered for sale by the Seller at the auction already comply with the Norms and Standards.

GENERAL GUIDELINES:

  • (a) Buyers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the above and with all other legislative and regulatory measures applicable to rhino horn.
  • (b) As a general guidance, buyers may note that it is legally permissible to trade in rhino horn and to conduct all and any actions described as a “restricted activity” in NEMBA, within the borders of the Republic of South Africa, provided that a permit is obtained in terms of the above legislation.
  • (c) Buyers must register for the auction and in order to do so, basic information will be required e.g. copy of ID or passport and confirmation of residential or business address. This information will also assist the buyer to apply for the required permit to own the rhino horn after the auction.
  • (d) Buyers are alerted to the distinction between domestic and international trade in rhino horn. Domestic trade within South Africa is legally permissible whilst international commercial trade is prohibited under CITES. Non-commercial export of rhino horn (as personal or household effects) is legally permissible, provided that the relevant and legally required CITES permits are obtained in advance.

ASSISTANCE TO BUYERS

  • (a) Any queries or questions that buyers may have regarding the above and / or any assistance that buyers may require in the process of applying for the relevant permits may be directed to the Auctioneers. The Seller and the Auctioneers have a professional team available, at a nominal additional cost, to assist buyers and to facilitate the application process to obtain the relevant permits.