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More than 30 years after governments agreed to ban the international trade in rhino horns, the slaughter rate has got much worse, not better.

More than 95 percent of Africa’s remaining rhinos were wiped out within 20 years of the 1977 ban.

And in SA, the largest-remaining bastion of wild rhino protection, massive holes have been punched through the law enforcement barriers which once protected the country’s rhinos from ruthless underworld crime syndicates.

More than 1 000 rhinos have been slaughtered here in just four years. Every year the death rate climbs steadily, despite government pledges to tackle horn poachers head-on.

Inevitably, this mounting death rate has triggered renewed calls for a revision of rhino-protection strategies – including a highly controversial proposal to lift or relax the global trading ban.

The broad theory is that legalising the sale of SA’s massive rhino horn stockpiles could help to drive down soaring black market prices and reduce the need to poach or kill living rhinos.

NM hornless 1.jpgThe latest victim of poaching was this white rhinowho was shot and and de-horned at the Mpofini private game reserve near Vryheid on February 20, 2012. Picture: The Vryheid HeraldThe Vryheid Herald

So far the national government has not given any firm signal on whether it will support the proposal, but the Department of Environmental Affairs opened the door to this option last September when it commissioned two new studies to probe the likely impacts of opening up a legal national and world trade in rhino horn.

The ban has been in place since 1977 when 175 member states of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) voted to halt the global sale of rhino products.

The proposal to lift this ban is not new. Nor is it motivated solely by private sector interests which stand to profit financially.

More than a decade ago – long before the current poaching crisis hit SA – former Natal Parks Board chief executive George Hughes said the ban was well-intentioned, but ultimately the strategy had failed to protect rhinos.

Read More Here:- http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/rhino-poaching-to-legalise-or-not-1.1253950