Chris Moerdyk

Time to fight dirty to save the rhinos

2013-05-13 07:38

Chris Moerdyk

Every time I see a car coming towards me with a plastic rhino horn stuck to its bonnet I want to weep.

Because driving around with a rhino horn stuck to your car is precisely why the number of rhinos being slaughtered every day is going up by leaps and bounds and not coming down.

While buying a plastic rhino horn to stick on your car or marching in protest against rhino poaching as well as all sorts of other fund raising efforts, is most admirable and does help a bit, let's face it, nothing seems to be happening to stop or even slow the massacre.

Like all those great and horrendously expensive campaigns to stop death on the roads, the carnage keeps increasing.

And I reckon the reason is that those who are opposed to road death and rhino poaching are working hard but not smart.

Now, I am hoping that readers of this column, who by their weekly comments have demonstrated a highly intellectual and creative streak, will put their minds to work on how to play dirty in terms of stopping rhino poaching.

For example, let me kick off with this idea which, in all humility, I believe is brilliant. I am convinced that modern technology has the answer. When I look at how scientists have managed to clone sheep, create human body parts from stem cells and "grow" human skin, I have to ask myself hew incredibly easy it must be for those same scientists to create fake rhino horns?

After all, I am told, rhino horn is nothing but water and hair.

So, if someone can manufacture fake rhino horns that look, taste and smell just like the real thing - then all we need to do is flood the market with so much generic rhino horn that the price drops to the point where there is nothing in it for the poachers and crime syndicates.

The opposite sort of thing to the diamond industry where producers purposely withhold supply to maintain the rarity of diamonds and hence their value.

That's what's happening with rhino horn. Simply shooting the odd poacher and generally making it harder to get hold of a rhino horn, is increasing its value and making it more and more attractive for millions of potential poachers to risk their lives for a once-off big pay day.

We need to vastly increase the amount of rhino horn to reduce its value but instead of killing rhinos our scientists just make the stuff, like the Indian pharmaceutical industry does with generic medicine.

Ok, now perhaps you might think this is a stupid idea but instead of telling me it is stupid, come up with something better.

Somehow, I feel that if the anti-rhino poaching people could just stop and think out of the box, they would have a heck of a lot more success than trying to hunt down poachers in areas the sizes of Wales with an occasional helicopter and a vastly understaffed bunch of game rangers.

What worries me is that if rhino horn gets to be so valuable, western powers such as the USA and UK might be tempted to do what they do in the case of oil supplies and invade South Africa to corner the rhino horn market using the excuse that South Africa has weapons of mass destruction. Which of course it has in huge numbers if you count all the cultural weapons that are brandished during peaceful protest marches.

So, the solution to the problem must be one that actually devalues rhino horn not make it even more valuable.

I reckon flooding the market with "generic" rhino horn should do the trick or alternatively I suppose, we could try to persuade the USA to nuke Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

So, come on all you intellectual giants reading this – let's have your ideas on how to wreck the rhino horn market.

And by the way, the idea of spreading the rumour that eating poachers' testicles will cure AIDS is not what I am looking for.
- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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