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Online rhino horn auction taking place in South Africa


FOUR PAWS question the need to sell rhino horn to the South African market

Cape Town, 24.08.2017 – After an international ban on the trade in rhino horn and later the lift of domestic rhino horn trade in South Africa in April, the High Court permitted the world’s largest rhino breeder John Hume to sell rhino horn at an online auction earlier this week.


FOUR PAWS is outraged by the legal online rhino horn auction that is currently taking place in South Africa.  After a statement from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs that indicated the permit for this auction was issued by “an official who believed they had the authority to do so”, leaves the international animal welfare organization with the feeling that this permit should never have been issued to begin with.

© Boomerang Film

The auction‚ which is the first legal horn auction in decades‚ had been advertised in Chinese and Vietnamese via the website. The most distressing part of the language options on the site is that neither English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu or any other official South African language would be used.


Further terms of the permit issued prohibits any international sale of the rhino horn, only the South Africa domestic market may purchase.  Fiona Miles, Country Director of FOUR PAWS South Africa, questions: “Where is the domestic market for this large amount of rhino horn? Who will be buying it? Why is this South African auction targeting International buyers and more importantly how will it be prohibited from ultimately leaving South Africa seeing that the International trade in rhino horn is still illegal?” 


Some may justify this auction as being in aid of the long-term conservation of rhino. In FOUR PAWS opinion, it is however no more than a veiled attempt to make this practice and its proceeds seem legitimate.  This precedent will be opening the door for more such activities that will see rhinos kept in captivity to have their horns removed periodically to then be sold to the highest bidder.


“This is about export, this is about individuals wanting to reap a financial reward from a market that has been built on the suffering of animals”, says Miles.


The facts surrounding this proposed auction are shrouded in various mysteries. FOUR PAWS call on the South African government to launch an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding this permit being issued. 


As an animal welfare organization, the condemnation is swift an unequivocal, with South Africa loosing over 1,000 rhinos annual to poaching it cannot be seen to be providing any legitimacy to rhino horn trade. Thus FOUR PAWS beliefs that the only appropriate response to this outrages event is for the South African government to reinstate a full ban on the domestic trade of Rhino horn.