Hunters to only export one trophy horn per year

Monday, April 16, 2012

Skukuza - Professional hunters will only be allowed to hunt and export a single rhino horn for trophy purposes once a year, the Water and Environmental Affairs Department has announced.

Department spokesperson Albi Modise said the department wanted to reduce the abuse of hunting permits, which possibly fuelled the illegal trade in rhino horns.

"The management of hunting of rhinoceros has been strengthened. Therefore, a person may only hunt and export one rhino horn as a trophy. We are doing this in order to be able to control hunting processes," Modise said.

He said rhino horn trophies could not be replaced with replicas as hunters expected to take home the real thing.

"If a hunter comes into the country in order to hunt a rhino, they expect to go back home carrying an original trophy," said Modise.

Modise said hunters had to apply formally for hunting permits.

It was important for conservation authorities to ensure that the hunter's usual country of residence had adequate legislation that complied with Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora export permit.

"We believe that the countries where the horns are taken will work with us to ensure that the horns are still safe and used for what they have been exported for," he said.

He said the Vietnamese government was expected to help South Africa investigate if rhino horns taken to that country were still in the hands of legitimate hunters.

There is a huge market for illegal rhino horns in East Asian countries like Vietnam.

Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa has also urged private landowners who are in possession of rhino horn stockpiles to register them.

Molewa said it was a legal requirement to register horns with provincial conservation authorities.

"The Biodiversity Act of 2004 requires that everyone who is in possession of the horns stockpile should have a permit. It is essential to know who are in possession of the horns so that it will help us fight against poaching," said Molewa.

A total of 171 rhinos have been killed between January and April this year, according to the department.

Rhino poachers are targeting the Kruger National Park - which has suffered a loss of 103 rhinos - and the Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the North West provinces - which have lost 23, 18 and 17 rhinos, respectively.