Despite all the efforts to stop rhino poaching and curb rhino horn trade, one farmer has gone to great lengths to secure a trading license for rhino horn. John Hume, the owner of the world’s biggest private rhino herd, was handed a licence to auction the horns after winning a court case against the South African government.
John Hume has been granted permissions to set up a large scale auction. He owns a game farm with a grand total of 1 500 rhinos. In order to protect his herd from poachers, Hume removed the rhino horn. However, he aims to sell that horn himself.
This auction marks the first ever legal trade of the horn in the country of South Africa. South Africa has been struggling to maintain the bustling rhino population. Around 80% of rhinos world wide can be found in South Africa. Yet, the poaching numbers are also high, with over 1 000 rhinos slain in 2017 alone.
This has sparked an uproar among organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who are actively working to protect these highly endangered species. According to their records, the poaching in South Africa has increased by 900% since 2007.
Despite this, on Sunday 20 August, the High Court in Pretoria granted Humes permission to host the highly controversial auction. The Department of Environmental Affairs was forced to grant Hume a permit allowing him to sell 264 rhino horns (CNN).
This is the victory he has been waiting for. Hume owns the largest private collection of in the world and has been fighting for the legalising of rhino horn sales. The rhino farmer argues that unless he can sell the horn, he cannot sustain his rhino farm and the population of these vulnerable species would dwindle. He sees it as a means to an end in making his rhino farm sustainable.
Yet, environmental groups argue that by reducing rhinos to horns and figures, they are seen as livestock, and the importance of their conservation is neglected. These organisations argue that the focus should rather be on conservation, rather than farming.