One of the proposed “solutions” to saving the rhino is to farm them. Living their days like cattle; grazing and breeding-their horns’ harvested to pacify the demand, and turn a profit for the farmer.
Ranchers in South Africa have taken up rhino farming, and even China is doing this, with rhinos originally purchased in South Africa (see: Old McChina Had a Farm)
Millionaire, John Hume is a private rhino owner/breeder in South Africa, who strongly advocates for legalizing trade. His private game ranch, started in 1992, has approximately 1000 rhinos, all of whom have been dehorned.
“If I were to sell you a rhino horn harvested from a live and unharmed rhino we would both go to jail as there is no legal way to change ownership of the rhino horn. But, within 24 hours, I could get a government permit for you to kill one of my rhinos and take the horn.
So we can get the government’s blessing to kill the rhino and take the horn but we’d go to jail if we safely harvested the rhino horn.
…we need to accept that conservation will only be successful when people stand to gain from it on socio-economic levels. ” (Job Shadow)
But in the last 2 months, Hume has lost 35 rhinos to disease. Other farms are reporting the same.
Some ecologists maintain the high rainfall in the area and the unnatural environment the rhinos are in has facilitated the development of the Clostridial bacteria. The high numbers of rhinos increases the risk and it may be possible that the carrying capacity of the present environment has been exceeded. (Beeld SA)
Aside from disease, the costs of farming (veterinary care, inoculations, food, security, ranch hands) are another factor. If this were an option, is it realistic to think the majority of ranch owners could keep up with the expense?
Along with being a rhino farmer, there comes doubt and suspicion. On a privatized ranch, who is monitoring the animals’ well being and maybe more importantly, their deaths? Theoretically, a few could pass away from “disease” just as easily as be sold to the highest bidder to be shot and the horn taken.
Rhino are NOT cattle. They are not herd animals, choosing a rather solitary life, with the exception of babies who stay with their moms for the first 2 years. Their home “ranges” vary greatly. So while 80 rhinos are packed into 1000 acre fields (.02 sq mi per rhino) in Humes farm, in the wild they roam from 1.0-39.0 sq mi. Quite a significant difference.
Regardless of Mr. Humes and other rhino farmers’ intentions, this latest incidence of death is yet another sign that nature cannot be industrialized without consequence.