Almost 5 000 rhino have been killed in South Africa since 2008.(REUTERS)
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has dismissed the Department of Environmental Affairs' application for leave to appeal a recent ruling to lift the ban on local rhino horn trade.
In November last year, the court declared the 2009 moratorium as invalid and set it aside.
The initial application to lift the ban was brought by South Africa's two biggest private rhino breeders, John Hume and Johan Kruger.
This is another blow for Environmental Affairs, as Judge Francis Legodi dismissed the application for leave to appeal with costs.
Its lawyers failed to convince the three judges that a different court would not have lifted the ban on local rhino horn trade.
The department also came under heavy criticism for failing to consult the public before it invoked the moratorium in 2009.
Almost 5 000 rhino have been killed in the country since 2008.
However, before February 2009 when the ban was invoked, less than 100 rhino were poached per year.
Hume’s lawyer, Isaak Du Toit, says they welcome the court's decision.
“We are very happy and very satisfied with the judgment of again the full bench. Frankly speaking, we were expecting it. The merits of the matter were quite clear. The minister unfortunately did not comply with statutory requirements.”