Trading Rhino Horn in South Africa is Legal
Rhino horn trading across international borders has been banned since 1977. It was, however, legal within South African borders up until 2009. As the demand for the horn increased, so did rhino poaching, which led to the decision to pass the ban. Since then, the poaching has only increased.
The inevitable consequence of the ban left rhino breeders with lots of available product and no market to trade with. What it did not cater for was the knock on effect of what to do with these rhino. Rhino breeders, like John Hume and Johan Kruger, were left stranded with a lot of rhino and huge costs to ensure the safety and well-being of their livestock. Millions of rands are spent on maintaining long electric fences, hiring soldiers, aerial reaction and surveillance with helicopters, veterinary bills and many other overheads every year. Without being able to make money from their horns, this costly system has become impossible to sustain.
Rhino breeders filed a lawsuit against the government to remove the ban of rhino trade in South Africa and, after a long process, the ban was removed and, now, domestic rhino horn trade is, once again, legal within South Africa.
What are Blood Free Horns?
John Hume owns over 1500 rhino - all of which have trimmed horns. He, along with other rhino owners in South Africa, breeds and protects both black and white rhino, which are threatened due to the demand of their valuable horn. Collectively, John Hume and his colleagues own 30% of the rhinos in the country.
So, what does “blood free horns” mean? Rhino breeders have been safely and humanely trimming their rhinos’ horns to prevent poachers from killing them. John Hume states that his rhinos are anesthetized before their horns are trimmed 80mm above the flesh; the process is painless. Once the horns have been trimmed, they regrow at roughly 100mm per year. When the horn has grown back, the process is repeated, allowing a safe and sustainable market for rhino horn.
Until recently, John Hume could afford to breed and protect the endangered species as he supplemented the costs with other forms of income; however, keeping up with the high security costs involved in protecting the rhino has become difficult. John Hume has a stockpile of over 6 tons of rhino horn - blood free horn - that he has collected over the years, which he is going to auction off now that domestic rhino horn trade in South Africa is legal. The money will help him breed and protect his rhino, covering costs, such as an onsite vet, patrol vehicles, security, salaries and supplementary food for his rhinos.
All rhino breeders will benefit from rhino horn trade. With the ban being removed off rhino horn trade, hopefully, these breeders can help secure a future for the rhino.