Rhino horn auction

2017-09-19 06:00

THE reported, assumed failed, online auction of rhino horn came as no surprise. It targeted the wrong market, through no fault of those involved.

But, ironically, it was and still is, for the foreseeable future, the only legal available market.

People tend to forget that the only viable use for rhino horn (a myth?) is to feed man’s inflated ego (literally speaking, but make that deflated).

As such, one won’t find any locals participating in these locally restricted online auctions, except the shrewd with business acumen, buying and stockpiling rhino horn for when it all becomes legal. (A gamble, but a worthy one.)

Likewise, Vietnamese and Chinese bidders, for whom this first-time online auction was intended, won’t participate (unless using a pseudonym), as it would open them up to investigations, or at the very least, inquiries as to how they intend disposing of their purchases.

An uncomfortable situation, but herein lies the secret of the success of rhino poaching.

Having said that, I found one contradiction in Somerville’s informative article: the fear of a pseudo trade developing.

Rhino horn, whether acquired legally or illegally, has from day one found its way onto the Asian market.

So, this trade is as old as time. This, in turn, raises another question: what happened to our once formidable Customs and Excise department tasked with curbing illegal imports and exports?

Be that as it may, with the government refusing to legalise the export of rhino horn, it seems that it is the end of the road in proving that online auctions could have been a deterrent to poaching.

As for owners and breeders, all they can do, for now, is to continue forking out many more millions of rands to protect a beautiful animal from extinction.

All this in aid of a by-product that holds no meaningful value for them.

This seemingly irrational action is what ethnic values are all about.

It’s called love!

ANTHONY TIMMS

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