The highly-controversial online auction of rhino horns that was scheduled to begin yesterday has been postponed until later this week.
According to numerous reports and an update by auction house Vans Auctioneers, which is hosting the event, the disputed sale of more than 250 rhino horns has been delayed until Wednesday because South African wildlife rancher John Hume had not received his seller’s permit despite it having already been approved.
Hume, who is known for harvesting horns by tranquilizing the rhinos and dehorning them, a contentious technique he has claimed is used to keep potential poachers away, has amassed a substantial collection over the years at his Rhino Ranch in Klerksdorp, the world’s largest farm of its kind.
Animal advocates everywhere disagree, arguing that the legal sale of rhino horns in any scenario would only fuel poaching.
Though a statement on Friday indicated that The Minister of Environmental Affairs would oppose the application, late Sunday night, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the much-debated auction would continue and the permit was subsequently delivered on Monday morning.
It has been speculated that South African authorities had initially attempted to ban the sale out of fear that the three-day auction would undermine the global ban on rhino trade that was established in 1977 and currently remains intact.
Unfathomably, the ban on the domestic rhino horn trade was overturned in April of 2017.
A new statement released yesterday revealed that the minister is now reportedly on record as supporting regulated and responsible trade as long as buyers and sellers meet strict conditions.
Perhaps most confusing at this point is the specification that Hume could sell the horns but only to people who have obtained buyers’ permits; yet none had been issued at the time despite the “overwhelming” interest from prospective purchasers.
Buyers are also mandated to keep the horns in the country after the sale. A hint of positive news since the increased demand for rhino horns is primarily in China and Vietnam where it is believed that the horns can cure diseases but there has been no real medicinal purpose proven scientifically.