On Wednesday, 500 kilograms of rhino horn will be available to buy in an online auction. Owners see it as a step towards legalising international trade that could save the species, which is under threat from poachers. Conservation groups claim that neither South Africa nor the world is ready to remove the ban on trading.
John Hume owns the largest private collection of rhinos in the world and wants to sell their horns. The Klerksdorp breeder has been trying for years to overturn a 40-year-old international ban on the sale of rhino horn and an eight-year-old moratorium on sales in South Africa. His dream is that by legalising trade, poachers and the black market will be undercut and rhinos will be saved from extinction (while breeders like him can turn a profit).
On Monday, he took a step closer to realising that dream. Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa signed his permit to sell more than 500 kilograms of rhino horn in an online auction, which will see first legal trade of rhino horn since the government imposed a moratorium on domestic sales in 2009.
Rhino owners and some commentators believe in Hume's ambitions, claiming that legalising trade...