Poaching is the ultimate crisis threatening the rhino and elephant. But when it comes to finding a solution to the problem, there are more questions than answers. The great debate is whether or not to legalize the trade of the horns and tusks.
In Favor of Legalization
*Proponents believe legalizing would essentially take the control of trade away from the criminals by flooding the market, it would reduce the incentives for poachers.
*It would give a tangible monetary value to the life of the rhino, thus increasing the incentive to keep them alive and cared for.
*The horn is a renewable resource-it Does grow back
*There would be no need for culling or trophy hunting, as every life would have value.
*Nothing else is working, so it’s worth a try.
*The argument against is that since the current ban isn’t being well policed, legal trade wouldn’t be either. Corruption and laundering of the illegal horn will continue. Illegal trade will Always undercut legal trade as poaching is cheaper than the costs of National Parks.
*CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) would demand proof of where the horn was obtained, and many of the current stockpiles contain horns of unknown origin, thus making them unsellable. Therefore the stockpile is not as abundant as people may think.
*There are only approximately 28,000 rhinos on the planet, yet the potential Asian market of 1.5 billion users creates an issue of not enough supply to keep up with the demand. Although the horn is renewable, it takes approximately 3 years for it to regrow, not quick enough to satiate the Asian desire for it.
*Lastly, it’s counterproductive to educate the public that the rhino horn as medicine is a myth, while agreeing to sell it.
So what’s the solution? People on both sides agree it’s a rocky road, not knowing what effect it could have. In the meanwhile, rhino farmers continue to collect their rhinos’ horns and governments sit on stockpiles of confiscated horns, anticipating the day when profit can be made.
Interesting that the rhino is so “fortunate” to be able to give us all this opportunity for debate. The sharks whose fins are being sliced off cannot regrow them, the tigers whose body parts are taken, and the seals who are clubbed to death don’t have a chance. Let us hope we can come to a decision before it’s too late.
While the debate wears on, I for one am searching for more information, for solid numbers, more definite answers. Where is the balance between appeasing the people and saving the rhino? Can we save each other?