CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa will not bid to have the global ban on trade in rhino horn lifted but will maintain its existing policy of stockpiling the commodity, a cabinet minister said on Thursday.
South Africa, where thousands of rhinos have been killed by poachers for their valuable horns prized in Asia, had considered global trading in rhino horns as a possible way of stemming the poaching activities.
“The recommendations endorse South Africa’s integrated strategic management approach to resolving the poaching of rhino and illegal trade in rhino,” Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, told a media briefing.
“The committee recommends that the current mode of keeping the country’s stock levels be kept as opposed to the trading in rhino horns,” Radebe said, citing an advisory committee’s findings on the feasibility of trading in rhino horns.
The WWF conservation group welcomed the decision.
“Reopening the legal trade in rhino horn under current conditions would have been counterproductive and increased the risk of even more rhinos being poached,” Colman O’Criodain, WWF Wildlife Trade Analyst said in a statement.
Rhino horn is prized in Asia for use in traditional remedies and surging demand has meant more poaching, with a record 1,305 of the animals illegally killed in Africa last year.
Buying and selling rhino horn internationally was banned in 1977, and if it had changed to allow the global trading of horns, South Africa would have to take that decision to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for endorsement at its September meeting in Johannesburg.
Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia and Richard Balmforth