Ezemvelo boss: Trade legal rhino horn

2012-05-19 00:00

THE chief executive of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Dr Bandile Mkhize, has added his voice to the call to persuade Cites, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, to introduce a regulated, controlled and legal trade in rhino horn.

The idea is to undermine the impact poaching is having on the species and the spiralling prices the commodity fetches, especially in the Far East.

Mkhize said he hoped his arguments would help persuade the government to present them as a united countrywide front at the forthcoming 16th Cites conference of parties to be held in Thailand in March 2013.

Mkhize argued that government should embrace Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s detailed draft proposal drawn up to advance the introduction of a centralised selling organisation (CSO) in order to regulate the price of rhino horn.

Such a mechanism, said Mkhize, would effectively sell more than the current illegal supply of rhino horn to the trade, at a price that limited demand to a sustainable or current level. Speculative demand would decline, he said, because the outlook would be for regular supplies of horn that would meet market demand.

Such sales on an open market would only be to accredited buyers, such as pharmaceutical companies supplying the Far East. Legal horns would be defined as those emanating from natural deaths, those confiscated though court convictions and those forming part of the substantial national stockpile. Such horns would be micro-chipped, chemically analysed and certified.

Traded on a regulated market, the national stockpile of rhino horn would last for more than 10 years, given annual accruals. “By that time the population of white rhino will have doubled given its current growth rate,” said Mkhize.

The illegal market price of rhino horn has topped R330 000 per kilogram, and the total supply of illegal horns amounts to 940 traded in 2011. If poaching continues at this rate, by 2015 the number of rhino poached will surpass the natural six-to-eight percent growth rate in the rhino population.

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