The Minister of the Environment of South Africa, Mrs. Molewa, has been quoted by Times Live as saying that the High Court has dismissed the government's appeal against the lifting of the ban on domestic trade in rhino horn.  She said that the Ministry of Environment has now decided to appeal the decision on the moratorium to the Supreme Court of South Africa.

The Government was taken to court in November last year by private rhino breeders John Hume and Johan Krüger, who argued that the moratorium and original ban on the domestic trade of rhino horn had not had “adequate public consultation.”

The court ruled in favor of the rhino owners.  Immediately, the Ministry of Environment said that they would appeal the case to the High Court. The appeal was lodged with the High Court on 9 December 2015.  Because of the leave to appeal, the moratorium had remained in place. With the dismissal of their appeal by the High Court this week the ban is once again lifted.

In an effort to continue the legal fight to ban the domestic trade in rhino horn, the government has now appealed for leave to apply for the Supreme Court to hear their case.  At present Molewa has said that she will not comment any further on the case, but reminded the public that the International Ban on the trade of rhino horn remains in place.

This comes at a time when there are calls for the government to take a new look at regulations relating to poaching.  Rhino poaching is still a big problem in South Africa, despite figures that show 2015 was a slightly better year in terms of arrests and rhinos poached.

There are a number of loop-holes in South African law.  A person found inside a protected area might be charged with trespass, rather than with intent to poach.  A person with a firearm in a protected area, likewise, can be charged for carrying a weapon in a restricted area. Unless the poacher is caught committing a crime or in possession of animal parts, there is a chance they may be convicted of a lesser offence that carries a non-deterrent sentence. #News #Buzz