How I would save the Rhino
There is a solution. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about how to save the Rhino. Our current methods just aren’t working. I have spoken to conservationists and other people alike, and this is my idea, different to mainstream ideas, but after much debating with people, I really feel it will work.
Before I share the idea, these are the points we have to consider:
1. We need to level the financial playing field. Currently, the poachers have all the financing behind them. This has to change or we are doomed.
2. We need Government buy in, big time, and the only way to do this is to make it worth their while.
3. We need to think about whether the CITES ban is helping the Rhino, or hurting the Rhino.
4. We need buy in from the people in the parks.
5. We need buy in from the rural communities surrounding the parks.
6. We need to analyse who has the power to help; and
7. This one is the most difficult. We need buy in from those who actually sell the stuff to the final consumer, and show them how this can benefit them!
The idea is very simple and also sustainable, and even profitable. Here goes:
a) Make it a law that whenever a Rhino dies (preferably naturally), the horn must be sold to one shop, and one shop only. This shop could be run by, say, the EWT.
b) Calculate a price per gram of horn which really makes it worthwhile for Private Game Parks as well as National Game Parks to bring their horns to this shop.
c) Don’t pay all the proceeds to the park. Split it so that some of the proceeds can go to the rural community surrounding the park. Build something tangible which the community can see and learn to love and enjoy!
d) Also, encourage the park to pay a small fee to the ranger who found the horn, so that the ranger is not tempted to do anything else with that horn.
e) Then, (this is important), sell the horn at a 20% mark up directly to the traditional medicine guys in China, undercutting the price they currently pay (thereby making it worth their while to rather buy from the EWT.)
f) From the 20% mark up in point (e) above, half should go to government (similar to a tax, to get their buy in) and half to the EWT.
The percentages etc. can be thought through further to ensure the money goes straight back into conservation. This solution could bring more money into conservation than we have ever seen before.
Some additional points and options:
· I have thought about de-horning all Rhino’s. It might work, but in the long run it may not be the best solution. For sure we would rather see living Rhino’s without horns, than dead Rhino’s without horns, but I think my solution above is better.
· I have thought about using the military on the ground. It won’t work. They earn so little. It’s not inconceivable that these people could become the biggest poachers. They have guns, in the park, where the Rhino’s are. It’s a recipe for corruption.
· I have thought about shooting poachers on site, but really, and this is difficult, what you actually want to do is to watch them do the deed (as difficult as what it is), and then track them!
· Why not involve the air force? They could do reconnaissance flights high above the park without the poachers being aware.
· Ask the US military for a favour - Put their drones to some positive use and help us track the poachers from high above. It could be good practice for them...
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