In a controversial move, South African Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa recently supported a proposal to lift the ban on the sale of rhino horns. The trade of rhinoceros horns has been banned for 30 years, but the killing of 668 rhinos last year for their horns spurred Molewa to suggest an extremist solution. Molewa claims that regulating the removal of rhino horns will help to protect the longevity of the animals and prevent poaching.

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Rhinoceros poaching is a serious issue in South Africa that is threatening the future of the species. In an attempt to combat the problem, South Africa has launched initiatives ranging from armed patrols to aerial surveillance of regions where rhinos congregate. But even the “protected” Kruger National Park is not safe from poachers – so far 158 of the animals have been found slaughtered this year. Authorities, including Molewa, fear that current tactics won’t be enough to protect the rhinos, whose death rates are set to drastically eclipse birth rates as early as 2016. Molewa proposes to allow the removal of horns from a regulated amount of rhinos in a “safe and humane” manner.

Many feel that reinstating the legal trade of rhino horns sends a confusing message, not of rhinoceros protection, but instead of exploitation. Groups like Traffic and the World Wildlife Fund fear that this mixed message could spur a higher demand for the horns, making the supply even harder to control. The Molewa-backed proposal is still under review – let’s hope that a more humane proposal comes to the table before it is too late.

Via The Guardian

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