This is trying to put the best possible spin on what appears to have been a disappointing auction – which has already led to John Hume’s attack on the Minister, Edna Molewa.  There are many reasons , most of them obvious from the first suggestions of an online auction, why it failed to come up to high hopes of the private owners. Some were the fault of the government.  The minister and the DEA do not have a firm grip on the rhino horn issue and have been at best fumbling and unsure of what to do and at worst obstructive and totally incompetent (which is par for the course for the Zuma government in general – throwing in a large measure of corruption).  I’m not convinced that this auction has from today established a legal trade.  An auction has been held and it remains to be seen how much horn was sold and what happens to it. Hardly see this as an encouraging step towards a legal, regulated international trade in  non-lethal horn, which must be part of the solution of the rhino poaching problem.  It may have demonstrated that only those willing to take a huge gamble or those bidding in order to make a political point about a legal trade will buy horn – given that it must stay in South Africa, not be sold commercially or will become part of a new style of pseudo trade that slowly leaks horn out to Vietnam and China  If the latter happens, it may of course reduce demand for poached horn in a very small way but will very obviously strengthen the resolve of those opposed to a legal trade, who will argue that this legal trade is then tainted by a new form of smuggling and will use this to ensure that those CITES members who oppose or are neutral over the revoking of the CITEs ban will remain unwilling to consider a CITES-sanctioned legal trade.  It doesn’t entirely take trade in horn out of drak trade and may create a new form of dark or certainly shady trade. KS

 

Private Rhino Owners’ Association

 

MLP MEDIA – On behalf of PROA