Should trade in rhino horns be legalised? That is the question on which Pot-Shot readers can have their voice heard this week.
Simply put your cross behind "Yes"Â� or "No"Â� on the question underneath and reply to question 2 if you wish.
1. Would the legalisation of trade in rhino horn stop rhino poaching?
3. What do you propose to end rhino poaching?
At the government's "Rhino Conference"Â� last week it was decided to request Ms Buyelwa Sonica, Minister of Environmental Affairs, to institute a scientific investigation into the sustainability and legality of the lifting of the ban on national and international trade in rhino horn.
Trade in rhino horn is prohibited in terms of Cites (the Convention on International Trading in Endangered Species).
Conference attendees also decided that private rhino owners may dehorn their animals as an interim measure to protect them against poachers. The horns should be equipped with a micro chip and stored in a vault.
Officials from SANParks and the Department of Environmental Affairs, said no rhinos will be dehorned in national or provincial parks.
The majority of conference attendees vehemently opposed a moratorium on rhino hunting. Environmental affairs said 101 rhinos have been legally hunted this year compared to 107 in 2009. Most of the applications to hunt rhino came from Vietnamese citizens.
There was consensus that limitations on rhino hunting increase rhino poaching.
Researchers will have to determine whether legal trade in rhino horn would satisfy demand and whether it will put an end to poaching. Should the report find that trade in rhino horn should be legalised, it will have to be subjected to Cites for approval.
Fears were voiced that the breeding of rhinos for trade in rhino horn could degenerate into a "canned rhino enterprise"Â� which threatens biodiversity and which - like the recent "canned lion enterprise"Â� - would greatly harm South Africa's image internationally as a nature conservationist.
* Dr Ian Player, the man who is widely regarded as the saviour of the white rhino during the sixties, believes trade in rhino horn should be legalised and the Chinese and the Vietnamese governments should be involved to aid in regulating legal trade in order to destroy crime syndicates.
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