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<h1>The Argument of Rhino Horn Harvesting – Micro-chipping</h1>
<h2>Chapter 3 – The Legal Question
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<time class=”op-published” datetime=”2016-07-23T010:30:16Z”>July 23th, 10:30 AM</time>
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<time class=”op-modified” dateTime=”2016-07-23T010:30:16Z”>July 23th, 10:00 AM</time>
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<a rel=”facebook” href=”http://facebook.com/amanda.baret”>Amanda Baret</a>
Amanda is an animal activist </address>
Vish is a scholar and a gentleman.
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Private rhino horn game farmers in South Africa want the sale of rhino horn to be legalized. The question is, how will this market be monitored? Valid permits and micro-chipping is hailed as a viable method of controlling who sells the rhino horn, and who is in possession of rhino horn legally.
<h2>Rhino Horn Harvesting</h2>
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<p> Rhino farmers have many reasons for wanting the sale of rhino horn to be legalized. Rhinos need huge amounts of space, the veterinary costs are high and a private army needs to protect them from poachers. The sale of rhino horn would go a long way to paying for these bills.
However, paying for captive rhinos does absolutely nothing for the protection of rhino in their natural habitat. It is highly unlikely that these private game farmers will donate any of their profit to rhinos in game reserves. Neither will any of this profit go towards preventing crime syndicates from their massacre of rhino.
<p>Pro-traders claim that the possession of rhino horn and the sale of rhino horn will be closely guarded and controlled when the ban is lifted. However, there is strong evidence to the contrary </p>
<p>Under the <a href=”https://www.environment.gov.za”>endangered species regulations</a> in South Africa, an individual must obtain a permit to carry rhino horn. It must be micro-chipped and marked with indelible ink. To find this the permit information in the website of the above link go to Legislation/Acts and Regulations and click on 31 March 2015 “NATIONALENVIRONMENTALMANAGEMENT:BIODIVERSITYACT,204 (ACTNO.10OF204)
THREATENEDORPROTECTEDSPECIESREGULATIONS” ,page 48).
<img src=”http://saffr.co.za/images/HornsSeized.jpg” />
<figcaption>Image of the horns seized by the Hawks 15 August 2015</figcaption>
<p>However, how does this regulation translate when it comes to exercising the strong arm of the law? It seems that the law itself which is used to judge cases is still in its infancy.
<p>The <a href=”http://citizen.co.za/1224175/constitutional-challenge-delays-rhino-poaching-trial/”>Hugo Ras</a> trial is currently underway. It has been delayed while the law decides where the burden of proof lies. In the meantime, the accused, and others arrested for alleged poaching are hoping that the delay may be in their favour. If South Africa lifts the ban on the rhino horn trade, then it is possible that the charges against them will be dropped.
<p>Cleary this tells us that the <a href=”https://www.loc.gov/law/help/wildlife-poaching/southafrica.php#_ftn11″>Environmental laws</a> which exist to protect rhino, still need to be argued in court, and precedence created.
<p>The law that rhino horn must be microchipped and registered to the carrier, and that individuals must have a permit to carry this microchipped rhino horn, does not seem to be effective at this stage</p>
<p>15 Aug 2016, Hawks arrested <a href=”http://ewn.co.za/2016/08/15/Well-known-farmer-investigated-by-Hawks-for-possession-of-rhino-horn”>Pieter van Zyl</a> , a well-known game farmer, and two accomplices, for possession of 113 rhino horns. Van Zyl claims that the horns belong to him. The Hawks are in the process of examining the documents he produced to ascertain their validity.
<img src=”http://saffr.co.za/images/JohanJooste.jpg” />
<figcaption>Johan Jooste, of the Hawks</figcaption>
<p>This sting operation was made possible only because it is illegal to sell rhino horn. These arrests and the discovery of the horn stash would never have been made if it was legal to sell rhino horn. If selling rhino horn was legal, then the Hawks would have had no grounds for an arrest at that time, and a search of the premises would have been delayed. The documents would have had to be proved to be fraudulent first, and in the meantime, the horn stash could have been removed.
<p>Proving that the possession was illegal should just be a simple matter of cross- checking who the micro-chips, which are embedded inside the rhino horn, are registered to. The lack of micro-chips should be proof that the horns are possessed illegally.
<p>This is evidence that micro-chipping is of no consequence currently when it comes to arrests for possession of rhino horn. So much for the law that an individual can only be in possession of a rhino horn if it has been micro-chipped and registered to them.
<p>When will it become law that is enforced? How many years will this take? How many court cases need to be argued and tried in order for the lack of an authentic permit and micro-chipping be enough to sentence offenders effectively?
Currently it is legal to have rhino horn in your possession as long as you carry a document that could easily be created fraudulently. There is no national system to monitor the creation and awarding of these documents.
<p>If South Africa lifts the ban on rhino horn trade tomorrow, and given the lack of control mechanisms and corruption, the rhino horn trade will become an attraction for any common criminal. The huge payload of the crime will justify the risk of orchestrating the slaughter of rhino, removing the horn, obtaining false permits quite easily, and transporting the horn. If micro-chipping process was enforced, then individuals could be arrested for carrying horns which are not registered against their name very easily and quickly. However, in the meantime, rhino will be fair game for all.
<img src=”http://saffr.co.za/images/Law.jpg” />
<figcaption>Until the legal hammer falls…</figcaption>
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<small>Written without prejudice</small>