Legal rhino trade 'not a solution'

2012-06-26 22:33

Johannesburg - The legal trading of rhino horn will cause even more activity within the black market, animal activists said on Tuesday.

"Whenever you have a restricted market where only certain people can buy and sell, then you will always encourage black market activity," said Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching director Allison Thomson.

Thomson was responding to the notion of legalising rhino trade to curb rhino poaching.

"The models that are put forward for trade are based on economically flawed assumptions."

She said by opening up trade, the number of consumers would exceed the supply [of rhino horn]. An increase in demand would not necessarily reduce the price of rhino horn.

With rhino horns being rare, the possibility of poaching would increase.

Thomson said possible trading partners that SA would have to link up with would not contribute to the country trying to conserve the rhino.

"Trading partners that exist in the illegal trade at the moment [are] China and Vietnam... it is clear that we would be getting into bed with partners that have no wildlife trade management tools in place," she said.

"It would spell disaster for our rhino to enter into trade in horn with countries that have little to or no incentive themselves to save our rhino."

In May, the department of water and environmental affairs said it would explore the possibility of introducing trade in rhino horn.

Minister Edna Molewa at the time said the department was in an extensive preparatory process ahead of the 16th Congress of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which was expected to take place in March next year.

Since the beginning of this year, 251 rhino have been poached in SA.

  • faan.kruger.9 - 2012-06-26 23:30

    Very clearly Allison Thompson ...your arguments stink!.."the number of consumers would exceed the supply" That argument is also valid at the moment but resulting in the slaughter of rhinos. When it is legalized, at least owners would harvest the horn without killing the animal. At the moment rhino owners just lose...they cannot harvest, their animals get slaughtered , they have to pay expensive security measures that does not always work, and there is no possibility of any income. Let the owners come up with solutions and not the greenies or the politicians! There is no time to play around anymore.....rhinos face extinction in our lifetime unless there is a drastic change in policy worldwide. I talk from experience.

      Brat - 2012-06-26 23:43

      I spent a good month researching and writing a paper for the proposal of an economic solution. There are alot of leading economists out there that view legalizing trade as a viable solution. It appears this Allison Thompson struggles with the basic principles of Supply and Demand. "The models that are put forward for trade are based on economically flawed assumptions." Well Thompson... Your own assumptions seem to be very flawed.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-06-27 06:04

      Remember that harvesting horn is also not risk free. Anaesthetising a large animal means shooting it full of M99, the effects of doing this repeatedly are not known. There is a documented case recently of a rhino dying after treatment (on TV nogal) while under anaesthetic. However, keeping animals for the horn harvest does encourage protection after they have passed breeding age. This would discourage the sale of old males for hunting as was the case of the auction of the problem animal in Mkuze recently. It is no time for the "greenies" (of which I am one!!!) and the cold hearted economists (of which I am one!?!?!) to start taking hard and fast (and diametrically opposed) views on this. Don't underestimate the power of the "greenies", they have (wrongly!!) stopped the necessary control of elephant numbers and caused a massive issue of overpopulation in some areas. You have to be visibly correct, not just have a decent argument, everyone has one of those...

      jake.neumann.35 - 2012-06-27 06:36

      The arguments against legalising the trade in rhino horn, do not hold water. The document "Dehorning Rhino, The Welfare, Ethics and Behavioral Considerations" is flawed and highlights selected issues that is presented in a subjective way. The dangers of even considering documents such as this from a person who still owes an explanation of her wild dog saga - euthenizing a pack and then get a replacement pack from an undeclared source - leaves a very large question mark hanging over this discussion. Question is, who is Allison Thompson? A bored housewife, a needy cookie who can't find a job? What qualifies her to claim that legalising sales of horn will not make a poisitive difference? I cannot believe that the Endangered Wildlife Trust has also got involved in this. My few hundred rand per month now goes to World Wildlife Fund who, according to reserach that I have done shows that they are making a difference where it is needed.

  • Brat - 2012-06-26 23:33

    Okay... Now is not the time for debate, now is the time for action. Clearly, our current measures are not doing anything to curb poaching. I feel this article has some weak reasoning. For example: "An increase in demand would not necessarily reduce the price of rhino horn." - Economics 101, increase in demand leads to an increase in price. We all know this. The reason why there is poaching in the first place is because current demand for Rhino horn cannot be met through conventional trade and thus a very high price is paid to get it illegally. Opening up to trade will undercut these poachers. The country is losing over $150,000,000 of potential export to these poachers. If we establish a credible central trading organization, we could use that trade revenue to bolster security at a ground level. Additional finances should then spill over into promoting awareness within those foreign countries about the false medicinal properties of Rhino Horn. Trade legislation should be calibrated towards a sustainable supply of Rhino Horn. I.E 900 Rhino die of natural causes a year. The current demand is being met at around +/- 400 Rhino horn a year. We have horn in stock pile, we have a sustainable valuable supply of export. At least create a window period for trade and see the results. We need to stop the barbaric killing of Rhino and propose a good economic solution. Forgive me for my lack of patience but our current measures are not working.

      faan.kruger.9 - 2012-06-26 23:46

      100% correct Brat. The demand will never go away. Its the supply that should be legalized, controlled, revenues back to the owners/growers....and NOT the poachers. That way owners will increase herds, have more rhino. At the moment having rhinos is not only a liability, its also dangerous.

      Brat - 2012-06-26 23:58

      @Wilweet, I just wrote an article about an economic solution. Should be up soon and hopefully it will provide more clarity on the matter.

      mario.dippenaar - 2012-06-27 01:09

      It's an economic problem, and frankly I'll rather believe an economist that did research instead of an emotional 'animal activist'.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-06-27 05:48

      Hesitantly stepping into this discussion, te emotion on both sides is extremely high and seldom will either side budge an inch, even listen to the argument. Brat makes one very good point (among others but I like this the most) in that legalisation of the trade can force the traditional healers to prove the efficacy of the "medicine". As long as it is being sold in the deep shadows then nobody will ask. Bring it into the open and the questions can and will be asked. Buyers of the legal horn will then need to make a decision on looking stupid buying something that nobody endorses as effective. Right now users pay top dollar because "someone said that they were cured of AIDS or cancer". Nobody believes that African potato, garlic and lemon juice cures AIDS despite Uncle Thabo and Dr Beetroot telling us that it does, because we can prove that it does not. Do the same to rhino horn - it is worth a shot, then perhaps the demand will go away??

      jean.tredoux.5 - 2012-06-27 07:26

      Brat I think you have the trading solution down but your vague on the supply and demand... The stock pile will eventually run dry and you are comparing the amount of rhinos that were killed in the last few years with the demand, who says the demand for horn isn't much higher than what's being sent to asia, maybe when it's legalized the amount will double and that's what we must do, we must supply to stop the killing, if we can't supply then poachers will still try their luck.

  • boramk - 2012-06-27 01:42

    Economists say otherwise

  • Theo Ferreira - 2012-06-27 05:12

    My pipe dream stands: covertly flood the market with a synthetic substitute. If we can make nanomachines, a large hadron collider, a space station, catch nutrinos kilometres below the surface of the earth and land on the moon then I am sure we can create a synthetic rhino horn matrix that is flooded on the black market as the real thing to the extent it drops the price below the point where poaching becomes less viable. You would think..

  • Cassandra Eileen Olivier - 2012-06-27 06:52

    Just sell them poison instead of rhino horn that should do the trick

  • jean.tredoux.5 - 2012-06-27 06:57

    And before we know it we will have special camps just to breed rhino for their horns just to supply the asian market... Problem here is Asia not doing enough from their side to stop the selling of rhino horn. It's one country against a continent... Guess who will win!

  • Angela Jooste - 2012-06-27 07:12

    i think that it is disgusting that we are trying to find a way to trade rhino horn in the first place it is and was a living breathing animal it doesnt matter how it dies you cant just go around selling body parts would you do that with a foot so why rhinos

      gungets.tuft - 2012-06-27 07:42

      Got any woolen jerseys, use feather dusters? We are talking about the sustainable use of the horn, keeping the animal alive?. The horn does grow back...

      arne.verhoef - 2012-06-27 09:45

      I think you dont really have much of a clue about what you are saying. I further think you suffer from the bambi syndrome, like Allison Thompson

  • richard.lemmer1 - 2012-06-27 07:20

    Nobody is as deaf as those who do not want to listen . She is a great example ! Only mouth ... And quite a big one and no ears !

  • Ben Foulds - 2012-06-27 07:22

    Angela. By trading with Rino horns the farmers remove the horn with help of a vet. By doing that the rhino is out of danger and the poacher wont kill it becouse the horn is off. More farmers will farm with rhinos becouse the horns will grow back and has to be harvest again. So there is money to be make. The farmers will increase the amount by breeding and in that way the rinos wont be indagered with in couple of years

  • zolapretorius - 2012-06-27 08:11

    This person is using the Rhinos to get support for their cause, legalizing it will take that support away.

  • jake.neumann.35 - 2012-06-27 08:13

    The Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching are a bunch of cowards that have only one thing in mind and that is to get as many uninformed people as possible to part with their money. If they are so 'ouraged', why not start a world action against the consumer countries? Currently they only concentrate on 'soft' targets. If they are so concerned, I challenge them for starters to tackle the Chinese and Vietnamese diplomats in South Africa, but I suppose this is asking too much as it will cost a lot of money and they will have to do something for a change.

      gungets.tuft - 2012-06-27 08:34

      Easy Tiger. Don't make assumptions about the motivations of people. There are at least 7500 people that support OSCAP, each one of them passionate about wildlife and rhinos. Whether we agree with them or not does not mean that we can assume their motives are cowardly and they are thieves. Go to their Facebook page and get a little more information before you jump on that bandwagon. I am not a member, but I hesitate to slag off people who offer support to prevent the extinction of the rhino.

      jake.neumann.35 - 2012-06-27 09:55

      Gungets, too much displaced love can spoil a kid for life. My advice to those groups are to think rationally and to determine what possible damage their actions can do in the long run.

  • peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-06-27 11:54

    Allowing trade in Rhino Horn is a very touchy process. What we to think about is that fact that should we give in then we are basically saying that the myths about Rhino horn is true and you can now buy it to use!! This is going to push the demand up substantially and our population may not be able to handle it. Even if you had to legalize it the illegal trade will never stop as people will always try and get better prices. I really don't think that legalizing rhino horn trade is the answer it is going to open up a whole new problem for South Africa and the Rhino population.

  • olivia.duplessis.1 - 2012-07-04 11:38

    I am not expert but I do support legalizing the trade. Not only will this safe the lives of hundrends of rhinos and their cubs but it will also stop poaching in it's tracks. If people want to see the devasting effects of poachers and what they leave behind check out my page on facebook Olivia de Bruyn - under the Whelan International page. There you will see first hand what is left of a rhino after being left for dead. Legalization might not be a quick fix but it will save lives.

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