Last week South Africa announced plans to lift the trade ban on rhino horn. The proposal has prompted a flood of reactions by the Twitterati on Twitter and this has been expressed through a range of emotions from anger to simply stunned. Edna Molewa, the Minister for Environmental Affairs plans to push through legislation that will allow the trade in rhino horn domestically and allow the export internationally of Rhino Horn for 'personal purposes'. This development comes in the wake of the CoP17 Cites meetings in South Africa last October, where the international community voted against lifting any rhino trade bans.

Corruption, rhino horn stockpiles and altruism

According to a petition being run on Change Org by the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, "The South African Government has in the past been accused and found guilty of corruption at the highest levels. Informed conservationists fear that the implementation of the proposed permits for trade will be less than perfect. The South African Government has not even been able to release any official poaching figures for more than six months." The fears that controlled implementation of any trade will be inefficient has its roots in corruption, according to the Website and there is the allusion to the possibility that the rhino horn stockpiles may be one way to gather in cash for the government coffers.

Altruism and trust are two factors that have long been a battlefield in the raging rhino debate and motives of the government of South Africa.

There are conservationists who believe that the ban on rhino horn has not made any difference to the poaching of rhino. Those conservationists argue that the owners of rhino cannot sustain the protection of their animals without an income to support the population of rhino in private hands.

Opponents believe that any kind of trade only encourages the poaching and worldwide demand. The two sides of the argument will probably never see eye to eye on this or agree to disagree. It is an emotional hotbed, but interesting to note on Twitter that the social media reaction seems to be mainly from those who oppose lifting the ban,

What people are saying on Twitter about the rhino horn trade in South Africa

  • From まゆとら -

  • Swansea Paul calls for a boycott of South Africa
  • Bornfree USA may have put a finger right on the mistrust and doubt by posting "Bad news: South Africa may legalize domestic rhino horn trade. Legal trade would provide cover for ILLEGAL exports!"
  • It is no wonder that there are some sarcasm and puzzlement to some of the reactions given that rhino are so near extinction:
  • Other Twitterati have expressed their feelings as "outrageous" and simply "wrong." Others are calling for aid to the country to be suspended.

What do think about the plans to lift the trade ban on rhino horn in South Africa? Leave your comments in the box below.