Rhino horn myths continue

2017-09-12 06:00

WATCHING recent TV news broadcasts regarding the online auctions of rhino horn necessitated me to supplement my letter of August 25, as I now feel it was a little incomplete.

It has been reported that there are two types of rhino horn, that of rhino running wild, the horns of which are supposedly superior grade and are all the rage on the Asian market, and that of rhino in captivity of private farmers and breeders, rumoured to be of an inferior grade.

While this new piece of ridiculous information changes nothing regarding my original view, one just has to ask the following two questions. If this is true (heaven forbid), and assuming that poachers and prospective buyers know this, why then are privately owned rhino in captivity still being poached in their hundreds? Secondly, using the exact same assumption, on the opposite scale, one can assume that only wild rhino (they’re all wild, for heaven’s sake) should now be poached, leaving captive rhino safe and sound and out of the equation. Simple arithmetic tells one that poaching should now decrease by at least half, putting to bed the perception that online auctions will increase poaching. But it’s not that simple. There are more myths around rhino horn than testosterone in one’s blood.

The reality is that by keeping the international market closed to online auctions and the public, the black market will flourish, with its inflated prices enticing many an innocent man, but driven by poverty, to become a poacher. And the powerful syndicates are waiting to pounce.

And all the while we are counting.

ANTHONY TIMMS

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