“Whenever you have a restricted market where only certain people can buy and sell, then you will always encourage black market activity,” said Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching director Allison Thomson.
Thomson was responding to the notion of legalising rhino trade to curb rhino poaching.
“The models that are put forward for trade are based on economically flawed assumptions.”
She said by opening up trade, the number of consumers would exceed the supply [of rhino horn]. An increase in demand would not necessarily reduce the price of rhino horn.
With rhino horns being rare, the possibility of poaching would increase.
Thomson said possible trading partners that SA would have to link up with would not contribute to the country trying to conserve the rhino.
“Trading partners that exist in the illegal trade at the moment [are] China and Vietnam… it is clear that we would be getting into bed with partners that have no wildlife trade management tools in place,” she said.
“It would spell disaster for our rhino to enter into trade in horn with countries that have little to or no incentive themselves to save our rhino.”
In May, the department of water and environmental affairs said it would explore the possibility of introducing trade in rhino horn.
Minister Edna Molewa at the time said the department was in an extensive preparatory process ahead of the 16th Congress of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which was expected to take place in March next year.
Since the beginning of this year, 251 rhino have been poached in SA.