IFAW: SA govt lobbying to legalise rhino horn trade

2014-04-09 05:30
 (File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Cape Town - In the global effort to crack down on rhino poaching, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) believes that the South African government can lead the way as a global player - or be a lonely outlier.

The director of the IFAW, Jason Bell, said that the government has been actively lobbying to gain support to legalise the trade in rhino horn.

The IFAW argues that legalising the rhino horn trade in order to reduce illegal poaching, is a tenuous step that may, or may not work.

Bell argues that decisions on the rhino horn trade should be made on scientific evidence only.

Conservationists from all over the world have gathered in Pretoria to discuss the risks of rhino horn trading.

At the International Conference to Assess the Risk of Rhino Horn Trade, the IFAW presented its research on the economic trade of rhino horns in endangered species. Bell argued that there are real risks when a government regulates the trade and this could drive an increase in poaching.

Deciding to legalise the rhino horn trade does not only bring up economic questions but there are political and ethical considerations.

By 14 March this year, 172 rhino had been poached in South Africa. In 2013 the total was 1 004.

Bell believes that international relations will also be damaged. Legalising the trade could potentially alienate states that are entirely against the trade of rhino horns.

The IFAW is encouraging the South Africa government to stand together with the international community in placing pressure on Asian countries where the demand for rhino horn, elephant ivory and other wildlife is high.

Advantages

Michael Murphree, a researcher at the North West University, argues that there are various advantages of legalising the rhino horn trade.

South Africa trading in white rhino horn is a massive opportunity according to Murphree’s research. “When a rhino is dehorned in a responsible manner, it grows back to its original length within two years.”

To substantiate this, Murphree’s research looks at a farm in the North West that farms 700 rhino on 5 000ha of land. According to his research, each rhino takes 10ha of land for grazing purposes.

Currently Murphree states that rhino horn costs between R200 000 to R300 000 per kilo and some horns can weigh up to 5kg.

Three rhino have the potential to yield more than R1m per year.

Follow Vernon Pillay on Twitter
 
Read more on:    ifaw  |  pretoria  |  conservation  |  animals  |  rhino poaching

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