To legalize or not to legalize the trading of rhino horns to save the black rhino, white rhino from extinction in South Africa?
Despite the huge lobby to legalize rhino horn trade as a means to curb the poaching of endangered rhino and stop the wildlife trafficking and illegal trade, we at NIKELA remain opposed.
We are not wildlife conservationists, we do not own rhino, and we have no financial stake in whether rhino horn is traded or not. As citizens of our planet, as humans who care for wildlife and the protection of habitats and ecosystems we are fully committed to do all we can to stop the poaching and all other activities that compromise the preservation of wildlife and its environment.
So the sifting continues as organizations and individuals get off the fence and choose their side, pro or against legalizing the trade of rhino horn. Where do you stand?
No bones about it, saving the rhino from the relentless poaching (close to 300 this year to date) is no simple matter. With corruption, lack of training, apathy, limited equipment, organized crime syndicates find the rhino and other wildlife like the elephant easy targets.
Making selling rhino horn legal may seem a natural answer to some. However, they forget that wildlife traffickers have no interest in doing things legally. Why should they pay for something they can get for free? And, how can we begin to believe that a system that cannot stop the war on wildlife could possibly control and monitor the trading of rhino horn, a commodity with such a large price tag, about $30k per lb.?
Cutting off the horn of a rhino is not like sheering sheep. A sheep does not have to be tranquilized to be sheered, a rhino does. A sheep does not need its wool to assist or protect its new born, a rhino does. A sheep does not need its wool to forage for food, a rhino does. Sheep that are sheered for their wool are not wild animals, rhino are. Sheep have been farmed for eons (this is not a debate about whether this is good or bad) rhino are still classified and considered wild animals. Who or what gives us the right to farm them for their horn?
In South Africa rhino can be, and many are, privately owned. Some rhino owners are about conservation via eco-tourism or providing a safe haven for rhino. While others are about business, the farming business, betting on the future rhino horn business. Sure we can say the game ranches and game farms have contributed to the number of rhino and other wildlife species. But what about the quality of their lives? What about their natural habitat and ecosystems?
If wildlife conservation is purely about numbers then farming wildlife and trophy hunting outfits are conservationists, however, we at NIKELA join those who don’t see it this way. We are among the idealist who join the wildlife conservation biologists and others who see the big picture, who envision not only individual species, but entire ecosystems being preserved so that all (including humans) can live the way nature intended it.
In an ideal world wildlife does not come with a price tag for their horns, skin, fur or other body parts. In such a world we care enough as humans to assure them this ideal by supporting it via public funds. Privatizing wildlife, although this has quantitively saved several species, what has it done qualitatively? If we’re for the former at the expense of the latter, why not simply keep a sampling of every species in zoos?
So it appears that legalizing the rhino horn trade would only be good for the rhino owner who stands to make a big profit from cutting off and selling the horns of their rhino. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention, that it’s the stub, the part that cannot be removed when dehorning that has the most value to the poachers… so go figure!
Update: 7 dehorned rhino were killed in one day, all for their horn stub. Reported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation