By Tara John
November 26, 2015

South Africa’s High Court lifted the domestic ban on the trade of rhino horns— a policy that was imposed by the government in 2009 to try and stem poaching.

The judge’s ruling was delivered in the Pretoria high court after two South African game breeders, John Hume and Johan Kruger, fought a legal battle to overturn the moratorium, reports AFP.

The decision came ahead of next year’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa, which could lift the global ban.

The country is suffering from a poaching epidemic, which saw 1,215 rhino killed last year for their horn, a rate that will see more rhino killed than born within the next few years. Some private rhino breeders say selling legally harvested horns could stifle the lucrative black market trade.

“We believe the South African government is seriously contemplating making a proposal to CITES to allow international trade in rhino horns,” Izak du Toi, one of Hume’s lawyers, told AFP. “(Hume) hopes that a legalised trade will lead to a reduction in poaching.”

South Africa’s government has 21-ton stockpile of rhino horns worth more than $1.36 billion.

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