Legal Brief Enviro: Draft amendments to Norms and Standards relating to Rhinoceros Horns

14 January 2016
By Danjelle Midgley, Candidate Attorney

Draft amendments to Norms and Standards for the marking of rhinoceros and rhinoceros horn, and for the hunting of rhinoceros for trophy hunting purposes were gazetted on 12 January 2015 for comment. While the proposed amendments do not ease regulatory restrictions on hunting or the transport of trophy horns, the issue remains contentious in light of the moratorium on trade in domestic horn trade being overturned by the North Gauteng High Court in November last year, which order is currently suspended due to an appeal.

The only hint in the amendments at possible future domestic trade is the insertion of the phrase “until further notice” into clause 3 which currently prohibits trade in horns in accordance with the 2009 moratorium (which has since been set-aside in the 2015 case).  This suggests that the Minister may, by notice, allow trade in the future.

Proposed technological refinements include provisions requiring indelible ink marking of horns in addition to microchip systems. Amendments to recording requirements include a move from the ‘TRAFFIC’ registry to a national database developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs containing the information collected from microchips.

A significant change makes it mandatory that an environmental management inspector (EMI) be present for all rhino hunts. Previously only an official from the permit issuing authority was required in terms this section.

The limit of one white rhinoceros per hunting client per year is retained in the proposed amendments. Applications for the hunting of black rhinoceros will be dealt with in terms of the 2013 Biodiversity Management Plan for Black Rhinos.

The public are requested to send comments on the proposed amendments to the Minister by 11 February 2016.

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