February 2011

Sale of rhino trophy mounts banned

On 18 February 2011 the UK’s Animal Health's Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service (WLRS), following European Commission guidance, brought into force a ban on the selling of rhino horn trophies. Mounted rhino horns and taxidermy rhinoceros heads will no longer be considered sufficiently altered from their natural state to allow for their legal sale.

Comment from Save the Rhino

European regulations have long allowed the sale of rhino horn providing specimens are 'worked items' and prepared and acquired in such condition prior to June 1947. The rational behind this legislation was that ‘worked’ rhino horn had an artistic value greater than that of the raw materials and therefore was unlikely to be grounded down for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and ultimately fuel the illegal trade.

Until recently included under the umbrella of ‘worked items’ were trophy mounts of rhino horn. Trophy mounts encompasses taxidermy rhinoceros heads but more often refers to mounted rhino horns. Apart from being mounted to a plaque (and no longer attached to a rhino), these horns are in their natural state. As Simon Barnes highlighted in an article in The Times in November 2010 (click here for the full article), there was increasing evidence of trophy mounts selling for considerably more than their artistic value and circumstantial evidence that they were being bought for use in TCM.

Following the piece in The Times, Save the Rhino Director Cathy Dean wrote a piece, published on this website (click here for the full article), that highlighted the loopholes in the existing legislation and called for action to be taken.

We’re delighted to report that on 18 February 2011 the UK’s Animal Health's Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service (WLRS), following European Commission guidance, brought into force a ban on the selling of rhino horn trophies. Mounted rhino horns and taxidermy rhinoceros heads will no longer be considered sufficiently altered from their natural state to allow for their legal sale.

“The new EC guidance has been put into immediate effect and we will no longer give approval for the sale of mounted, but otherwise unaltered, rhino horn under the antiques derogation,” said John Hounslow, the head of the WLRS. “Neither will we allow sales of rhino horn to take place where the artistic nature of any alteration is not obvious.” To read the full release, click here.

Auctioneers, with the correct CITES permissions, who were advertising mounted trophies prior to the ban will be allowed to sell these items but thereafter, the ban will be total.

We applaud the action taken by the WLRS and are confident that it will contribute to the global fight against rhino poaching.

Lucy Boddam-Whetham, Acting Director, Save the Rhino International, 23 February 2011

(1) Comments

  • Ian
    13 March 2014, 09:15

    Great news!

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