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Wed Apr 01 07:52:52 SAST 2015

Legal rhino-horn trading not on

DENISE WILLIAMS | 03 May, 2012 00:16
File photo of a white rhino.
Image by: JAMES OATWAY

South Africa is not considering legalising the trade in ivory to combat the scourge of rhino-horn poaching.

Responding to a question at a press briefing shortly before she presented her budget to parliament yesterday, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa ruled out approaching the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) to discuss the possibility of legalising ivory trading.

"No, not this time around; we are still considering," Molewa said.

She said that to prepare a presentation to the convention for its next meeting in 2013 was a serious undertaking which required more deliberation.

In the meantime, the government was focusing on signing agreements for mutual cooperation with China and Vietnam, two of the countries that are key players in the illegal trading of rhino horn.

She said rhino poaching was a priority crime but the measures being taken to fight it were under-funded.

"We are working with the Treasury to increase the budget."

Water and Environmental Affairs director-general Nosipho Ngcaba said an additional R20-million had been allocated to fighting the scourge.

Molewa said the department was also focusing on areas such as mine-water drainage in parts of Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

She said that, in the near term, work was being done to decant and clean water that had been contaminated, and efforts were being made to prevent pollution.

She said a decision about fracking - harvesting natural gases by fracturing the rock in which they are trapped with high-pressure water - had not been taken.

Mining Minister Susan Shabangu is preparing a report that will detail South Africa's position.

The practice has been widely criticised by environmental groups and others on the grounds that it can lead to the contamination of ground water. Fracking has been proposed for sites in the Karoo.

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