By Jean-Jacques Cornish
After three-days of hearing stakeholders’ submissions, experts appointed by the Department of Environmental Affairs, have resumed their consideration of whether or not South Africa should allow the sale of rhino horn.
They will make their recommendations to the inter-ministerial committee who will, in turn, pass it to Cabinet for a final decision.
Ideally South Africa would prefer African countries to take a unified position at the Conference On The International Trade In Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITIES) that it will be hosting next year.
In any event, as the country housing 80 percent of world’s remaining rhino population, South Africa’s position will carry enormous weight at that gathering.
The Committee of Inquiry was set up earlier this year by Environment Minister Edna Molewa. It represents a cross-section of stakeholders from both the public and private sector.
The minister considers them to be leaders in their field, selected for their extensive expertise in their areas of work or nominated by their organisations or departments.
Working against a September deadline the 22-member committee might schedule further hearings of stakeholders.
However 55 individuals, communities and organisations they heard during their the three-day gathering in Boksburg last week has given plenty of material to consider.
The participants hold diametrically opposed views on whether or not the sale of rhino horn should be sold.
However proceedings ran in with remarkable calm and decorum – probably because the common goal is conserving the rhino.
Those advocating legalisation say rhino should be kept safely so their horns, which grow back at a rate of two kilograms a year, could be harvested and sold at about R700 000 a kilogram.
Those opposed counter that this is more about making money than saving the rhino.
Committee head, lawyer and businessmwoman Nana Magomola encouraged all stakeholders to continue working with the experts saying: “ This is not the end of the road.”
She maintained the issues at hand are complex as they relate to rhino poaching and the illegal trade in rhino horn.
“The more information we have the better our decisions will be,” she said.