monday, 10 april of 2017

South Africa court allows continuation of rhino horn trade

The South Africa Constitutional Court dismissed the Department of Environmental Affairs's appeal to maintain the moratorium on domestic trade of rhino horn on Wednesday.

The moratorium was issued in 2009 under section 57(2) of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004, which was enacted to protect species and ecosystems in danger.

The High Courts of South Africa's Gauteng Division set aside the moratorium in November 2015, which made domestic trade of rhino horn legal again. SADEA's 2015 appeal was dismissed because the Constitutional Court said it lacked "reasonable prospects of success."

South Africa's Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa issued a statement explaining the restrictions that will remain on rhino horn trade:

In terms of NEMBA a permit is required to among others possess, transport and trade in rhino horns and any derivatives or products of horn. The judgment does not mean that persons are allowed to trade (including selling, donating, or in any way acquiring or disposing of rhino horn) without a permit issued by the relevant provincial conservation department.
In addition to the national restrictions, Rhino horn trade remains illegal internationally, in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Rhino horn is commonly used as medicine in many Asian countries but can also be used to display one's wealth. South Africa is home to the majority of the world's rhinos, making rhino horn trade an appealing market to South African poachers. Concerns over the welfare of wildlife and the environment has been mounting in the past several years.

In December a scientific study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that cheetah populations throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia are declining as habitats are encroached by various human actors.

In November the Indonesia Central Jakarta District Court rejected a lawsuit brought by Acehnese community leaders to protect the Leuser tropical forest from exploitation by mining companies despite conservation groups protests that the forest is home to four endangered species of orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers.

In October a US federal appeals court ruled that climate change was sufficient evidence to list bearded seals in Alaska as 'threatened' under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 due to the risk of future loss of habitat.

(Published by Jurist - April 7, 2017)

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