First Legal Rhino Horn auction scheduled in South Africa

With the Department of Environmental Affairs stalling the first legal rhino horn auction actually happening remains to be seen.

First legal rhino auction scheduled in South Africa

Update August 30th: On August 20th the DEA did approve the necessary permit. Reportedly the first legal online auction had a less than hoped for response. According to TimesLive, contrary to protocol, Hume stated, “We do not intend to publish the names of the purchasers or the prices achieved at the auction at this stage‚ out of respect for the privacy and confidentiality of the purchasers. We however assure the public that all bidders were duly authorised to participate in the auction and were issued with the legally required permits to so participate.”


“Rhino Horn Auction starts in 2 days” reads the website of John Hume and Van’s Auctioneers, followed by a countdown to their planned online rhino horn auction. It’s an online platform that has been translated into Vietnamese and Mandarin and will facilitate the sale of more than two hundred rhino horns, should Hume obtain the necessary permits.

However, he has not yet received the permits and today filed an urgent application with the High Court for permits authorising the selling of 264 rhinoceros horns by way of online auction, to be handed over within twelve hours. His application goes on further to say that the permits forming the subject matter of the application has already been approved and issued by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, however she has failed or refused to actually hand over the original permit, despite officials saying that the permits have been issued and are ready for collection.

Moses Rannditsheni, acting spokesman for the Department of Environmental Affairs, says, “The Minister of Environmental Affairs is opposing the application.” For now, the hearing has been postponed to 2pm on Sunday the 20th of August, less than 24 hours before the online auction is due to take place.

Hume argues that his application to the High Court is a matter of urgency because of the enormous financial burden he is under to protect the rhinos in his possession. The application requests the Court to order the Minister of Environmental Affairs to pay the costs of this application should she oppose it.

Unconfirmed reports say that the horns are stockpiled in three different provinces and that these stock piles have not been verified as required in terms of the draft regulations for the domestic trade in rhinoceros horn, or a part, product or derivative thereof.

In order to be issued with the necessary permit an application must be accompanied by a number of documents, including proof that the rhino horn has been subject to genetic profiling by a scientific institution, clear photographs of the individual rhinoceros horns, details of the marking of the individual rhinoceros horns, including the serial and microchip number of each rhinoceros horn and measurements of the horn. Failure to submit any one of the above requirements could result in the permit not being issued.

Despite attempts by hacktivists to bring down the auction website, it has remained online with bidding due to open at 12:00PM on 21st August 2017 and close at 12:00PM on 24 August 2017. A physical auction will also take place on 19 September 2017 at 11:00AM.

Prospective buyers will have to obtain a permit to enable them to register online and participate in the auction. According to the website, “anyone with a permit can participate in the auction as the government has lifted the ban on the domestic trade of rhino horn in South Africa. This means that rhino horn can be traded in the country; however, the ban on international trade is still in force.”

However, to date, no such permits have been issued and the regulations remain in draft form.

Contributed by Janine Avery and the Conservation Action Trust

[The author is solely responsible for the accuracy of the above article.]

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3 Responses to First Legal Rhino Horn auction scheduled in South Africa

  1. Laura Hawkins, Esq August 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    All rhinos deserve 100 percent protection and all trade in their parts must stop immediately. Americans are boycotting countries that e plot rhinos and elephants.

  2. Matias October 18, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    John Rume has invested millions in an exploration model that does not bring any damage to the rhino. It was encouraged in South Africa to develop its livestock breeding. He is a decent man, who knows him or has visited him knows how the ethics and well-being of rhinos are important. South Africa is what it is today due to the breeding of wild animals. John follows the rules, his rhinos have an enviable breeding rate and more than 90 percent are raised by their mothers. I think there is a total lack of information from his game farm, some compare it with certain Chinese merchants, John has the constitutional right to sell the horns and strengthen his creation. Today there are very few creators who still invest in rhinos, and these creations in the not-distant future will be called repopulation programs. The future will tell who was right, these NGO’s love rhinos orphanages and profit from all the negative information from poached rhinos, the larger the crisis, the more funds feed these NGOs.

    • Wildlife Margrit October 21, 2017 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks for commenting. By chance we met Terry Bengis shortly before he sadly passed away a few years back. The discussion with him regarding the rhino farm was civil and most informative. Among other questions I asked him, “What happens if the horn trade is never legalized?” He replied, “Well then we will have made a bad business decision.” The take away I had from this meeting about John Hume and his rhino breeding was simply that he is a business man who decided to invest in rhino horn. Bottom line, he has many rhino which is great as the numbers in the wild are dwindling. However, let’s not confuse this with true wildlife conservation. As for the orphanages, they have purely been created by the need. I personally know Karen Trendler and Natalie Rogers… both marvelous, dedicated women not at all into saving orphaned rhino for the money. And believe you me, if you were privy to their struggles you’d be fully aware of this too.
      In my experience its the so called ‘rescue centers’ who never release animals who are in it for gain. The ones who bring in the public for a fee. This is the very reason why there are centers we do not visit in our travels. We’ve found them in Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa for starters.
      As far as funding goes. Millions of dollars have been pumped into the Rhino Poaching Crisis. Like you I wonder where it has all gone. I won’t begin to venture how this huge problem is best solved other than the demand must be stopped as does the relentless poaching.

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