n Acta Criminologica: African Journal of Criminology & Victimology - A discussion of rhino horn domestic trade legalisation in South Africa

Volume 31 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


On 5 April 2017, the South African Constitutional Court ruled in favour of legalising the domestic trade in rhinoceros horn. The significant poaching crisis currently being experienced in South Africa has caused great concern as rhino and elephant populations move closer to the edge of extinction. The decision by the Constitutional Court, and the ensuing Draft Regulations, have been both celebrated and criticised by individuals from all sectors of society. Those who support the legalisation of the rhino horn trade are in favour of the potential positive outcomes of trade, such as reduced poaching, increased funding and positive financial incentives for private rhino owners. The anti-trade movement argues that inadequate regulations, widespread corruption and insufficient law enforcement capacity will hinder the success of a legalised trade in rhino horn. Multiple aspects of both the pro-trade and anti-trade arguments will be discussed in this article, specifically in relation to the Draft Regulations that govern the domestic trade in rhino horn and the envisioned outcomes of the legalisation of the domestic trade in rhino horn. Although a financially beneficial sustainable trade would be the ideal outcome of legalised trade, lifting the National Moratorium and allowing a full legal trade in rhino horn without adequate enforcement is sure to prove disastrous for the rhino population.

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