Members of the public are invited to comment on the newly proposed amendments to the norms and standards for the marking of rhinoceros horn and hunting of white rhinoceros for trophy hunting purposes.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa published the proposed amendments in Gazette No. 34650, General Notice No. 685 published on the 30 September 2011.
The suggested amendments state that the horns have to be transported from the the location where the hunt took place to the taxidermist or similar facility to be processed and prepared for exportation.
At present, the provincial conservation authorities issue permits for sport hunting of rhino and a regrettable challenge being encountered with regards to the permitting of rhino hunting, is the abuse of the system by unethical individuals.
“The proposed amendments are meant to address the abuse of the permit system,” said Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson Albi Modise.
“Despite the fact that illegal hunting is the main threat that could impact on the survival of rhinoceros in the wild in the future, more stringent provisions pertaining to hunting is necessary to ensure processes are standardised and to reduce possible abuse of the system,” he said.
He explained the Department views this in a very serious light and is dedicated to combating rhino poaching and abuse of the permit system. This is evident from the many interventions that have been initiated to this end.
Rhino horns acquired as a consequence of dehorning of the rhino, which were not micro-chipped, will now have to be micro-chipped by the permit issuing authority.
Provincial authorities will have to retain the information relating to rhino horns on the TRAFFIC rhino horn stockpile database and the Department of Environmental Affairs must maintain the national database.
On the management of the hunting of white rhino, all rhino hunts must be strictly controlled by way of an individual Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) hunting permit issued by the issuing authority to make certain that all rhino horns can be traced to the property where the hunt took place.
In the event the rhino horns were not already micro-chipped, they would need to be micro-chipped on the property where the hunt took place, immediately after the hunt.
It is also proposed that rhino hunts must take place under the supervision of a conservation official, preferably an environmental management inspector (EMI) from the province concerned, subject to a permit being issued in the name of the hunter.
The official or EMI who attended the hunt must immediately after the hunt provide the Department of Environmental Affairs with information relating to the hunt and the relevant micro-chip numbers.
The CITES export permit for the white rhino trophy, which must be accompanied by a duplicate of the TOPS hunting permit, has to be endorsed by an EMI ahead of the export of the trophy.
DNA samples of rhino horns are a proposed new section in the norms and standards. This section states that DNA samples of horns must be collected when live rhino are darted for translocation, treatment and any other management purposes.
DNA samples also have to be obtained from detached horns acquired through amongst others natural mortalities, dehorning, or rhino horn trophies, when such horns have to be micro-chipped.
The results of the DNA samples seek to assist enforcement officials to achieve successful prosecutions during criminal proceedings.
DNA samples has to be collected by a registered veterinarian in charge of darting a live rhino, an official from the issuing authority responsible for the micro-chipping, or the conservation official or EMI who supervises the hunt and who has been properly trained in DNA collection.
The DNA samples have to be sent to the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at Onderstepoort without delay.
Any person who wishes to submit representations or comments in connection with the proposed amendments to the norms and standards is invited to do so within 30 days of the date of the publication of the notice in the Gazette.
Comments must be sent to:
By Post to: The Director-General: Environmental Affairs, Attention: Ms Magdel Boshoff, Private Bag X447, Pretoria, 0001
By Fax to : (012) 320 7026
By email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.