Open letter to the president

2015-06-24 06:00

WE are writing to inform you how important the legalisation of the rhino-horn trade is in our country, and to ask you to do everything in your power to ensure that the process of getting legal trade in rhino horns evaluated and put in place happens soon.

The current situation is failing and it is estimated that two rhinos are killed each day in South Africa. The longer we wait to put in place legal trade, the more rhinos South Africa is going to lose.

Currently there are around 20 000 white rhino left, with the majority in South Africa and Namibia, according to an article by Geoff York for NBC news There are also an estimated 5 000 black rhinos still alive, but the western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011. Poaching is now out of control. If the rhino horn sales were legalised, the number of rhino poached would not be as high as it is today.

According to a news report by Matt McGrath from the BBC, the trade ban restricts supply and therefore pushes up the price of the horns. Hence, the increasing incentives for poaching that has caused a steep rise in poaching levels.

In 1993 a kilogramme was sold for around $4 700. In 2012 it was selling for $65 000. As a result of the high prices, the number of rhino poached has more than doubled every year, over the past five years.

The demand for horn can be met by legally shaving horn from a herd of about 5 000 animals kept on private conservation lands in South Africa, argue researchers in York’s article, saying this would lower prices, lure buyers of horn to the legal market, reduce incentives to poachers and thus reduce poaching.

According to this report, rhino horn is largely composed of keratin, a protein also found in fingernails and hair. It re-grows when cut at a rate of about 0.9 kilograms a year. Researchers advocate the setting up of a central selling organisation that could DNA fingerprint the shavings of rhino horn and control the market. Rhino horn would be legal, cheaper and easier to obtain.

the st anne’s diocesancollege environment club


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