This is essentially what China has done with the rhino. To get around CITES, and the illegal trade of rhino horn, they have started rhino farming.
In 2011, TIME magazine reported China’s initial undertaking of establishing a breeding colony of African Rhinos in order to harvest horn. Their investigation found that a Chinese arms company – the Hawk Group – had imported 60 rhino from South Africa to a park called Africa View in the Hainan Province of China. (This was a year AFTER China assured CITES they had no intention of farming rhinos.)
They also found the subsidiary company had developed a device that could scrape rhino horn. Plans were in place to produce 500,000 detox pills made from rhino horn. Projected sales from the rhino horn were $60 million a year.
Between 2007 and 2012, there were 150 rhino exported into China.
Initially African View Park was touted as a tourist destination, a guise to conceal the true purpose of the facility, although the lovely “view” was of row upon row of concrete enclosures filled with rhino. It is now referred to as the Sanya City Center for artificial propagation of the rhinoceros.
The newest development at the facility is China’s announcement it will release the White Rhinos into a rainforest, undoubtedly in the name of conservation. The obvious concern is that White Rhinos who originate from Africa are not meant to forage or habitat that type of environment.
According to rhino horn trade expert , Dr. Tom Milliken, “These animals will just not survive in a rainforest-type environment. We have concerns about nutrition and their overall ability to cope. If they don’t have supplementary food, they could starve. This is simply not conservation.”
Not to mention, free roaming rhino in China are about as safe as a stack of money on a park bench.
The list of animal parts China turns into traditional “medicine”, and it’s propensity to kill and use animals into near extinction is endless. (See Planet China: a world of myths and make believe) The farming of animals is nothing new (i.e. bear bile farms, tiger farming). Rhino farming was inevitable.
Is this really much different than the rhino farming in Africa? They too breed rhinos, and store the horn for the golden day of “legal trade” so they will be able to cash in, handing the horn to the Chinese and Vietnamese. For if indeed African farmers are in it only for conservation purposes, why not destroy the horn?
It’s known that South Africa advocates for legal horn trade. In a picture perfect scenario, proponents of legal trade believe that by shaving and selling the horn it will somehow meet the demand in the Asian market, reduce poaching and save the rhino. This is a weak argument. (See Kill the Trade or Kill the Rhino)
If anyone believes this can possibly be good for the rhino, here is a report done on the bear, who are being farmed as well.
From ‘An Investigation into the Chinese Demand for Farmed vs. Wild Bear Bile’ The report concludes that “the ability of
farmedbear bile to reduce demand for wild bear bile is at best limited and, at prevailing prices, may be close to zero or have the opposite effect.” They go on to say that “for the wildlife farming debate this indicates that at some prices the introduction of farmed competition might increase the demand for the wild product.”
Since this has been in the public eye, the South African Government has put restrictions on releasing more rhino to the Chinese developer in charge of the facility, who was in negotiation to receive 30 more rhino.