South Africa’s Latest Rhino Horn Trade Shenanigans [Podcast]

In Episode 43, we’re scrutinizing South Africa’s latest rhino horn trade shenanigans.

South Africa’s pro-trade brigade is at it again, and in Episode 43 of the Behind the Schemes podcast we’re scrutinizing the latest rhino horn trade shenanigans with Quyen Vu, Founder of Education for Nature-Vietnam, and Allison Thomson, Founder of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching.

Despite the Parties to CITES voting to reject rhino horn trade at CoP17, South Africa’s rhino horn trade advocates are still making their usual noises. Now they are attempting to circumvent the Convention with what they are calling “Domestic Trade in Rhinoceros Horn, or a Part, Product or Derivative of Rhinoceros Horn.” (Download the document here.)

The CITES Appendix II Annotation for South Africa’s – and Swaziland’s – white rhinos is “for the exclusive purpose of allowing international trade in live animals to appropriate and acceptable destinations and hunting trophies. All other specimens shall be deemed to be be specimens of species included in Appendix I and the trade in them shall be regulated accordingly.”

It must be noted that the draft regulations include “the export of rhinoceros horn for personal purposes, from the Republic” under “Purpose and application of these Regulations” in item 2.(1). However, CITES allows trade in CITES Appendix I species for personal purposes, which means for the personal use of the exporter. CITES prohibits trade in CITES Appendix I species for primarily commercial purposes, meaning that they cannot be sold in the importing country.

Under the proposed regulations, if a person buys rhino horn in South Africa, they are not allowed to sell it outside of South Africa. But how likely is it that any of this will be monitored or enforced?

It seems that South Africa is attempting to provide yet another means of enriching rhino horn traffickers and thwarting law enforcement efforts across the globe.

Have a listen to what Quyen Vu, Founder of Education for Nature-Vietnam, and Allison Thomson, Founder of Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching have to say about South Africa’s Latest Rhino Horn Trade Shenanigans.


[005:00] QV and AT talk about the timing of the draft regulations.

[006:30] QV explains the effects of crocodile farming in Vietnam.

[07:55] QV and AT talk about rhino owners who are opposed to rhino horn trade.

[09:56] QV discusses “exports” in the draft regulations.

[10:50] AT discusses the ambiguity of the draft regulations.
[11:48] QV and AT talk about about enforcement of rhino horn crime laws in Vietnam and South Africa.
[14:55] QV explains the effect of a “legal” rhino horn trade on Vietnam’s new penal code.
[20:15] AT explains the reality of enforcing rhino horn trade regulations in South Africa.
[22:30] AT talks about the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and rhino horn trade.
[22:53] QV and AT recommend next steps for combating rhino horn trade speculation and trafficking.



Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.