The Department of Environmental Affairs on Tuesday set March 13 as the deadline for inputs by organisations, individuals and stakeholders to the Committee of Inquiry investigating the feasibility of a rhino horn trade.
Stakeholders wishing to submit information to the Committee for consideration are invited to demonstrate their interest in this regard, if they have not done so already, department spokesperson Albi Modise said.
The Committee of Inquiry will consider information submitted by stakeholders and invite organisations or individuals to present information to it for consideration, Modise said.
Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa extended an invitation to all interested and affected parties on Feb. 10, 2015, to present information to be considered by the Committee of Inquiry.
The Committee of Inquiry embarks on its work ahead of the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2016. South Africa is planning to table a proposal for legalising trade in rhino horns at the conference, as an additional intervention to reduce the levels of rhino poaching.
As instructed by the minister, the Committee of Inquiry would, in the coming months, engage with relevant stakeholders before submitting a set of recommendations to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC).
Due to the technical nature of the issues to be discussed by the Committee of Inquiry, a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has been established to facilitate the processes and ensure that both technical and strategic matters are adequately addressed before reports and or recommendations are submitted to the Inter- Ministerial Committee for consideration.
The IMC will meet as soon as the Committee of Inquiry and the TAC have finalised reports for its consideration.
The first stakeholder meeting hosted by the Committee of Inquiry will take place on March 25- 26 in Boksburg outside Johannesburg.
The South African government has said it is committed to working in partnership with stakeholders and experts to ensure a feasible model for trade in rhino horns.
The move must be seen in the broader context of a myriad of interventions being implemented to address the scourge of rhino poaching, the government says.
The attempt to legalise rhino horn trade comes after efforts failed to stem the ongoing scourge of rhino poaching which saw a total of 1,215 rhinos slaughtered for their horns in 2014.
South Africa, which bears the brunt of rhino poaching, is the custodian of the world’s rhinos. The country is home to approximately 21,000 white and black rhinos, representing 93 percent of the world’s total rhino population, according to the latest official figures provided by the South African National Parks. Enditem