A permit system for the local sale and possession of rhino horn is in place, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) says.
This is after anti-poaching activists expressed fears after last week’s Constitutional Court ruling that it would not hear an appeal by the department against a high court decision forcing the lifting of a 2009 moratorium on local trade.
The environmental management inspectors of both the DEA and provincial conservation departments monitor compliance with the conditions of the permits, said DEA spokesperson Albi Modise.
“The department has developed an electronic database that will capture extensive details of all individual rhino horns in private and government-owned stockpiles and all newly-acquired horns, which will be entered into the database on a monthly basis,” he said.
The DEA’s directorate of biodiversity compliance was conducting an audit of all existing stockpiles of rhino horn.
The directorate had done audit inspections of government-owned rhino horn in all provinces and of privately-owned horn in two provinces.
“Six provinces have conducted audit inspections in respect of privately-owned horns.
“The department is currently conducting ad hoc inspections to verify the provincial audits.
“One province is still in the process of inspecting privately-owned rhino horn stockpiles.
“Once the inspections and audit are complete, the department will conduct ad hoc inspections to verify the information,” Modise said.
The department wants every horn in government and private hands to be tagged with a micro-chip, DNA tested, measured, weighed, marked and captured on the national database.
“This will ensure that the department has full and accurate information on the number of horns in South Africa at any given time and the registered owner of each horn.
“This is vital to prevent the smuggling of illegally-obtained horn out of the country,” said Modise.
On Monday, Agence France-Presse news agency reported that enforcement officials in Malaysia had seized 18 rhinoceros horns imported from Mozambique, weighing 51.4kg.
Mozambique shares a border with the Kruger National Park, which has borne the brunt of rhino poaching in South Africa.