Draft regulations for domestic rhino horn trade finalised

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Draft regulatory measures relating to a proposed domestic trade in rhino horn have been finalised, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced on Thursday.

The Department of Environmental Affairs published for public comment a set of draft regulations relating to proposed domestic trade in 2017.

The domestic sale of rhino horn became legal in 2017, following a Constitutional Court order that upheld a 2015 High Court decision which lifted the 2009 moratorium.

The domestic sale of rhino horn is conducted subject to the issuing of relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), its regulations and applicable provincial legislation.

Section 57 (1) of NEMBA provides that a person may not carry out a restricted activity involving specimen of a listed threatened or protected species (TOPS) without a permit.

“All comments received during the public participation process that were initiated on 8 February 2017 have been considered, and the provisions of the draft regulatory measures have been finalised,” Minister Molewa said. 

Further to restrictions contained in the regulations published in February 2017, additional restrictions will be published for public participation in due course.

“The amendments are based on the core principles of existing legal requirements, strategic intent, as well as traceability and control,” Minister Molewa said.

Updating the media on progress made in the implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros in Pretoria on Thursday, the Minister said she is currently issuing authority for permits relating to domestic rhino horn trade for seven provinces, while they finalise arrangements with the two remaining provinces. 

This follows the written agreement between the MECs and the Minister in terms of section 87A (3) of NEMBA.

Minister Molewa, however, noted that the commercial international trade remains prohibited by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and South Africa is a party to CITES.


Since the rhino horn domestic sale moratorium was set aside in 2017, seven permits have been issued for buying rhino horn at an auction.

Two permits were refused for the buying of rhino horn due to non-compliance with the regulatory requirements. 

In order for selling or buying permits to be considered, Minister Molewa said there are key requirements that must be met, including documentary proof of legal possession, no criminal record under NEMBA, rhino horn registered on national database, and a DNA certificate. – SAnews.gov.za

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