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Media Release: Invite to participate in the process of Panel of Expert investigating the feasibility of legalising rhino horn trade

30 June 2014

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, invites stakeholders to register to participate in the process of the Panel of Experts investigating the feasibility of legalising rhino horn trade. 

The Department of Environmental Affairs was authorised by Cabinet in July 2013 to explore the feasibility of South Africa tabling a proposal for the legalization of commercial international trade in rhino horn at the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2016. 

The Panel of Experts was established to assist the Inter-Ministerial Committee appointed by Cabinet to deliberate on the matters relating to a possible trade in rhino horn and commenced its work in April 2014.  The 10 member Panel is chaired by Mr Fundisile Mketeni, the Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation and will report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee before the end of the year.  

The Cabinet-approved Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) comprises the Ministers of Environmental Affairs, International Relations and Cooperation, Trade and Industry, Finance, Science and Technology, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Rural Development and Land Reform, Economic Development and Tourism, Safety and Security and Justice and Correctional Services. The Committee will provide guidance relating to preparations in respect of a trade proposal to be considered at CITES COP17.  The IMC will meet as soon as the Panel of Experts (PoE) has finalised a report for its consideration. 

The PoE has met twice since its appointment to initiate its work and discuss the scope of work to be done.  

Key areas of work to be undertaken by the Panel include: 

  • Analysis of the current rhino situation and interventions to address illegal killing of rhino and illegal trade in rhino horn, with a focus on government initiatives;
  • Identification of new or additional interventions required to create an enabling environment for the sustainable utilization of natural resources and to strengthen the integrated approach of the government in addressing illegal killing and illegal trade;
  • The socio-economic impact of wildlife trafficking (illegal killing and illegal trade) for communities, game farms and private game reserves, conservation authorities and species conservation, and options relating to the establishment of alternative economies;
  • Special focus on community involvement and participation, especially the communities neighbouring protected areas with rhinos
  • The potential impact of various interventions and management scenarios on the conservation of the species, including range expansion;
  • Improve understanding of demand and supply; the anticipated changes if trade is introduced; and the mechanisms to respond to that change; 
  • Potential models/mechanisms for trade (strictly controlled trade, i.e. once-off sale of stockpiles; government to government trade or more open regulated trade; sources of specimens and specimens to be traded; the benefits and risks associated with the different options; regulatory and control mechanisms; traceability; enforcement measures and financial mechanisms to be considered); 
  • The implications and risks for enforcement and security matters and mechanisms to mitigate (dynamics of wildlife crime and the key issues to be considered in terms of addressing current enforcement challenges and anticipated enforcement challenges); 
  • Implications of the decisions relating to trade for other rhino range States as well as implications for consumer States; and 

The work of the Panel has intensified as the number of rhino poached in South Africa since the start of 2014, now stands at 496.  The number of alleged poachers arrested since January 2014 is 141.  

The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of rhino poaching in South Africa. Since January 2014, 321 rhino have been poached in the Park.  

The number of rhino poached in Limpopo this year has risen to 51, while 47 rhino have been poached in KwaZulu-Natal, 35 in North West and 24 in Mpumalanga.  

The Panel will co-opt experts as the need arises and will engage with various stakeholders during the process.  Stakeholders are invited to indicate whether they would like to make representations to the panel, and on what subject matter. The inputs will be considered by the Panel in formulating recommendations to the South African government on an appropriate position on the legalisation of rhino horn trade.  

The Panel will consider the requests received and invite organisations or individuals to present information to it for consideration. The schedule of engagements/workshops will be made available in due course.

To access the template to be completed by organisations / individuals that would like to register, click on:

South Africans and members of the international community are encouraged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

Rhino poaching statistics :

KNP (SANParks) 146 252 425 606  321
MNP (SANParks) 0 6 3 3  0
GP 15 9 1 8  3
LIM 52 74 59 114  51
MP 17 31 28 92  24
NW 57 21 77 87  35
EC 4 11 7 5  10
FS 3 4 0 4  4
KZN 38 34 66 85  47
WC 0 6 2 0  1
NC 1 0 0 0  0
TOTAL 333 448 668 1004  496

Rhino poaching arrests statistics 

KNP (SANParks)  58 133 73 82 67
MNP (SANParks)  0 0 0 0 0
Gauteng (GP)  3 10 26 16 10
Mpumalanga (MP)  2 34 66 73 16
Eastern Cape (EC)  0 0 0 2 7
Limpopo (LIM)  31 70 43 34 36
North West (NW)  11 26 32 21 2
Free State (FS)  0 7 6 0 0
KZN  36 63 20 4 25
Western Cape (WC)  0 0 0 0 2
Northern Cape (NC)  0 1 0 0
TOTAL  141 343 267 232 165

For media queries, contact: 
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871

Issued by:
The Department of Environmental Affairs

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