The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) - an international agreement between governments to regulate animals crossing borders - has allowed sales of stockpiled elephant ivory from Africa to China and Japan in the past, according to Roberts.
"These sales only increased demand from China and Southeast Asia - spiking the incidence of illegal elephant poaching to its highest known levels, and threatening the very survival of the species," Roberts wrote.
Nevertheless, this year's meeting of the CITES convention will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa. With the domestic trade ban lifted, it's expected that South Africa will apply for permission to trade rhino horn internationally.
The cost of keeping rhinos safe
Cutting off their horns still isn't enough to keep rhinos safe.
For "dehorning to be effective, it must be coupled with extensive anti-poaching security and monitoring efforts. With an absence of security, rhinos may continue to be poached regardless of whether they have been dehorned," according to this fact sheet on dehorning by Save the Rhino International.