January 21, 2016 7:01 am

South African court upholds ruling to lift ban on local rhino horn trade

FILE - In this file photo taken Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 a darted rhino is blind-folded before being grounded for skin and blood samples to be taken, and microchipped, near Skukuza, South Africa, before being transported by truck to an area hopefully safe from poachers in a bid to cut down on the numbers killed by poachers. A South African Judge on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, struck down a government ban on the domestic trade in rhino horns, alarming some conservationists who say the decision could intensify the slaughter of the threatened species. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)


JOHANNESBURG – The South African government says a court has denied its appeal of an earlier ruling that lifted a ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn.

An official with South Africa’s environment ministry on Thursday confirmed the Pretoria court’s ruling, which some conservationists say will further endanger a rhino population that has been heavily targeted by poachers.

The ministry official was not authorized to speak to the media and confirmed the ruling on condition of anonymity.

In November, a South African judge rescinded a moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horns, saying the government had failed to properly consult the public before imposing the ban in 2009.

South Africa is home to most of the world’s rhinos. Poachers have been killing them in record numbers for their horns.

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