South African rhino breeder readies online auction of horns

Lawyers for a rhino breeder in South Africa say bidding will start Wednesday in an online auction of 264 rhino horns after a court ordered the government to hand over a permit allowing the sale to proceed.

A law firm representing breeder John Hume says he believes a legal trade in rhino horn will help to protect the threatened species, though some leading conservation groups believe it would lead to a surge in rhino poaching that has occurred at record levels in the past decade.

An April ruling by South Africa's Constitutional Court opened the way to a domestic trade in rhino horn, though authorities say anyone who buys from Hume must have a government-provided permit barring any international trade. An international ban has been in place since 1977.