Siding with plaintiffs who want to legalize the market for rhinoceros horns, South Africa’s Constitutional Court has overturned the government’s blanket ban on selling horns from the endangered animals. The ruling will allow legal domestic sales; international sales of rhino horn are banned.

The decision follows years of legal wrangling over the national ban that was enacted in 2009. Despite the change, the Department of Environmental Affairs says, South Africa’s rhino horn trade would be subject to strict rules.

The court’s ruling “should not be construed to mean that the domestic trade in rhino horn may take place in an unregulated fashion,” said environmental minister Edna Molewa. For instance, anyone possessing or selling the horns must have a permit, she says.

Responding to the ban being overturned, the International Rhino Foundation said that it was “completely irresponsible” without controls in place.

From Durban, South Africa, Peter Grantiz reports for our Newscast unit:

“Rhino horn grows back when cut, and ranchers raise the animals like livestock and stockpile the horn like a commodity. Private owners sued the government over its ban. They have long argued that, with their stockpiles, they can flood the market with legally harvested horn, meet demand, and curtail poaching.

“Critics dismiss the idea because there is no local demand — and any horn harvested legally will be illegally smuggled to Vietnam and China, where demand has risen in recent years.”

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell