Govt to appeal judgment on rhino horn trade

Pretoria: Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa says she intends to appeal the judgment handed down in the Pretoria High Court, setting aside the moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horn.

Two South African game breeders had launched the action.

"The Minister intends to appeal the judgment, in which case the department's application for leave to appeal will suspend the operation and execution of the judgment in terms of section 18 of the Superior Courts Act, 2013 (Act No. 10 of 2013)," said the department on Thursday.

It explained that the decision of the court should not be construed to mean that the domestic trade in rhino horn may take place in an "unregulated fashion".

"In the absence of the moratorium, it must be emphasised that all trade in rhino horn will be subjected to the issuing of the relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No 10 of 2004).

"In terms of NEM:BA a permit is required to trade in rhino horns and any derivatives or products of horn and the judgment does not mean that persons are allowed to trade - including selling, donating, or in any way acquiring or disposing of rhino horn - without a permit issued by the relevant provincial conservation department," said the department.

It added that the judgment also does not relate to the international trade in rhino horn for commercial purposes.

"Commercial international trade in rhino horn is still prohibited in terms of the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)."

Once the department has filed its application for leave to appeal, the order of the court will be suspended pending the finalisation of the application and the appeal should the application for leave to appeal be successful.

"The Minister is in the process of conferring with the MECs for environmental affairs on the matter," said the department.