Jean-Jacques Cornish

Experts continue weighing up whether or not to legalise sale of rhino horn.

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.






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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.