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Rhino horn Stockpile sale: The Safaritalk Interview series...

rhino stockpile trade CITES

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#1 Game Warden

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:09 PM

Following the South African Government's proposal to lobby CITES in 2016 to push for a one off rhino horn stockpile sale, I have spoken with a number of people from various backgrounds and of differing viewpoints about the issue - the one thing they have in common is that they are all involved in some form or another with rhino conservation. My original intention was to compile the results into an article, however, such indepth answers deserve to be read in full, without my own opinions/point of view offering bias one way or another, and so have decided to launch a special Safaritalk Interview series, which will see a new interview published on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

 


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#2 Game Warden

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:22 PM

The series starts off this week with John Hume, the South African rhino breeder/farmer and pro trade advocate, who has previously been interviewed for Safaritalk here. In this new interview, I put my questions to him regarding this announcement from the South African Government and we look at rhino breeding and farming in economic terms.

 

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John Hume.

 

John Hume was born in the Karoo in South Africa but grew up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). He started his career as a farmer but left Zimbabwe in 1982 and returned to South Africa. His business was in holiday resorts and in 1992, he bought Mauricedale Game Ranch in the Lowveld region of South Africa to retire.

Here, he started game ranching in an extensive wildlife system and his emphasis was on rare and endangered species. He bought a few rhinos early on but over the years developed a great passion for these gentle animals.

Today, at the age of 70, he devotes 95% of his time to breeding rhinos in both intensive and extensive systems and he is South Africa's largest private rhino owner and breeder. He has had massive success with their breeding, is extremely knowledgeable about these animals and is deeply concerned over the plight that they are facing.

For more information on matters to do with trade legalisation, visit the website here - www.rhinodotcom.com or the Facebook page here.

To receive regular email updates about the trade from a pro legalisation standpoint, subscribe via this email - tangowjuliet@gmail.com

 

--------------------

 

What is the current auction price of a male / female rhino?

 

Difficult to pin down as it depends on the individual animal (horned/dehorned/adult, etc) but it's probably fairly accurate to say that an average rhino price is about R250,000. 

 

Which is more desirable for the private owner and why?

 

This would obviously depend on the intentions of the owner - if they plan to hunt them, males would be more valuable. In my case, as a typical breeder, females are more valuable, for obvious reasons. It should be noted, however that the potential value for male animals could increase with legalisation, as they produce twice as much horn as females, in a dehorning program.  
 

How much has the poaching crisis affected values?

 

We're not entirely certain. There has certainly been a drop in general sales due to the poaching risk but there are other breeders like myself, who have continued to invest in rhinos. It would be interesting to have this question answered by the Wildlife Ranching group or one of the larger wildlife auction facilitators like Vleissentraal. These guys have historical data and they may have some insight on trends. 

 

A matter of great concern is that the supply of rhino has certainly diminished in recent years. 

 

What will happen to auction prices, (and sale prices between private farmers) should trade be legalised again?

 

I would imagine they would go up considerably. 

 

How much does it cost per year per rhino to feed, vets bills, security etc?

 

This would obviously vary considerably between rhino breeders and custodians but it costs me, (breeding on a very large scale), about R2,000 per month per rhino. The smaller your operation, the more it will cost you. 

 

What is the minimum optimum number of rhino for a small scale private owner and what land area would they require?

 

The minimum for a breeder to start up would be 5 rhinos - 3 cows, one adult bull and one sub-adult bull. Depending on the habitat, a 200ha camp would suffice. You could probably run five rhinos on a much smaller piece of land but if you're hoping to breed them, you'd want to aim at least at 200ha. 

 

Based on the above answer, how much could said farmer expect to earn annually through sustainable dehorning?

 

At present, nothing at all. In fact, the farmer would run at a loss. With legalisation, this will change - it's impossible to say how much he would earn annually as we cannot predict the rhino horn price but it is clear that if the farmer was able to sell the horns from his five rhinos every 2-3 years, the venture would be sustainable and probably profitable within a very few years. 

 

How important is it to maintain many smaller farms with a number of rhino distributed throughout SA?

 

Exceedingly important, both for breeding populations of rhino, (the more breeding populations there are, the better for the rhino), and for the associated habitat and biodiversity gain. 

 

What will happen if there is a no vote against reopening trade?

 

We will lose thousands more rhinos. And we don't have very many thousands more to lose. In short, it will be disastrous for our rhino populations. If that happens, we sincerely hope that the government would keep trying until they get a yes vote. 

 

How will a single stockpile sale affect the international horn market, opposed to long term sustainable trade?

 

We feel that it would be counter-productive in terms of the goal of creating a sustainable and regulated trade. If it is modeled on the ivory sales in Africa, with conditional 9-year moratoriums attached to it, it would be disastrous for rhinos. It would probably create a speculator reaction amongst buyers, so they will stockpile it, (like they did with ivory), and the supply will be trickled onto the market - exactly the problem we are currently facing. It is absolutely crucial that any trade in rhino horn is a regular and sustainable one. 

 

Matt, thanks for putting the questions to me. Best regards. John

 

The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.


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#3 XavierSurinyach

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:49 PM

A single stockpile sale or creating a sustanaible and regulated trade, as J. Hume calls to legalize a crime (to sell anything as a medicine that has zero medicinal value is a crime), would be a sentence to die for the rhinos that remain free but a great deal for those greedy rhino farmers who, in my opinion, have their own hidden agenda.
Mr. Hume said a year ago that the best financial investment is to keep stockpiling rhino horn because the price keeps rising. Now, he and his colleagues, have decided it's time to make their big business. It doesn't matter that the legalization of rhino horn trade is going to fuel the rhino horn demand (5x only in Viet Nam according a report from TRAFFIC), that is what they are looking for. They want a large rhino horn market and to become the rhino horn kings. They know that fueling the rhino horn demand there will be always poachers that will keep doing their bloody job to take their portion of this lucrative business but J. Hume and his colleagues also know that once the last free rhino is gone, the 100% of the businees will be under their control.
They want to own the 100% of the rhinos kept in their farms and "to milk the cow". To stop the demand is the less they are interested in. They are not interested in saving the rhino but to farm them and to make THE BIG BUSINESS.
On other side, the use of rhino horn in TCM is banned in the main consumer countries - Viet Nam and China - Are they going to legalize a fake medicine? I think no.

X. Surinyach
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#4 A&M

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 06:56 AM

@XavierSurinyach , John Hume has been farming rhino long before this poaching wave hit Africa,so for you to attack him and other rhino farmers ,is a bit uncalled for. 

Living here in Africa I can feel for these farmers as they can see no light at the end of the tunnel as far as curbing the onslaught on park rhino.And yes maybe they will be the only people that have any rhino left at the end of the day,and yes if they can make money off this evil ,so be it. Like John say it cost a fortune to keep these rhino,not only in food and area costs ,but also security costs,they are also subjected to this poaching wave.I think a few weeks ago John Hulme was also the victim of a few poached rhino. 

This is a double edged sword scenario and nobody knows where or how this will end. 



#5 twaffle

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 01:42 PM

Thanks for posting the interview Matt, I look forward to reading the subsequent ones.

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#6 Bugs

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 04:42 PM

A single stockpile sale or creating a sustanaible and regulated trade, as J. Hume calls to legalize a crime (to sell anything as a medicine that has zero medicinal value is a crime), would be a sentence to die for the rhinos that remain free but a great deal for those greedy rhino farmers who, in my opinion, have their own hidden agenda.
 

I dont see that argument. There is nothing illegal about consuming an animal product - especially (as in this case) if the animal doesn't have to die to produce it. 

 

Rhino horn is not a drug. Drugs are illegal. 

Harvesting rhino horn or any sustainable resource does not constitute a crime.

It cannot be compared with any crime like theft, rape murder. In fact what is happening now is theft..... Theft of a national resource, or a persons investment. By legalizing trade, you are not legalizing theft - quite the opposite in fact.  


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#7 Anita

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 05:35 AM

@Game Warden thanks a lot for starting this series, will look forward to more. 

 

Bugs - I thought a lot about your post about what constitutes a crime. I think for me, it is a crime to accept the demand for ivory, rhino horn, lion bones, tiger skins..... Abetting that demand in anyway, is illegal. By legalising the sale of rhino horn, taking the horns to not the current millions, but creating future potential buyers in hundreds of millions is unlawful. 

 

No amount of legalising sale of horns, active breeding programmes, sale of stockpiles etc will ever meet the demand in my part of the world, especially once the news is out that its morally, legally and socially acceptable to consume/buy rhino horns. Its the most blatant step towards condoning this demand. We are not in the 1970s and the 1980s anymore - the sheer volume of demand and disposable income is nothing short of obscene nowadays. 


Edited by Anita, 23 July 2013 - 05:37 AM.

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#8 Bugs

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 07:46 AM

 

 

No amount of legalising sale of horns, active breeding programmes, sale of stockpiles etc will ever meet the demand in my part of the world, especially once the news is out that its morally, legally and socially acceptable to consume/buy rhino horns. Its the most blatant step towards condoning this demand. We are not in the 1970s and the 1980s anymore - the sheer volume of demand and disposable income is nothing short of obscene nowadays. 

 

Good point. 

 

But isn't it already morally acceptable in those parts, and of there is a huge untapped amount of disposable income to be spent on Rhino horn, than why they be stealing it from Africa, as opposed to Africa inheriting some income from it.... Income that can (and will) be used to protect the rhino from the thieves. 


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#9 Anita

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 09:54 PM

yes but the fact that its illegal and there are still checks, still contains it in volume terms and there is pressure being built up both from outside as well as inside that its not morally acceptable. There is a whole new generation that can be (albeit very slowly) weaned away from this if the pressure is kept on. 

 

Also I dont think the issue for the horns is that they are being stolen-  not for the end users- you are right, they will pay up whether its stolen or not. The issue is a.) a wrong belief and practice and b.) poaching and c.) why is Africa not guarding this better. I am not convinced that legalising the sale can correct either a.), b.) or c.) .

 

What I am trying to say is that the demand-supply is so skewed that it wont impact the poaching. However if I am wrong in that estimate, and there is 100% conviction that it would decrease poaching, then I just think, we would hear more about how it would - so far it seems more about the value of live rhinos and running out of options - this is what I fear, that legalising the sale is because we are trying to do something new. In which case, my question is how much time would we give to see its impact on poaching? 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?

 

I agree, at the end of it, if it stops or makes the killing negligible, I would still be okay to live the lie of abetting the demand- But for me thats a very big leap of assumption. It is this link on how it will stop the killing that I guess I want to understand better and havent -atleast not from seeing the supply -demand balance or the lack of political will. 


Edited by Anita, 23 July 2013 - 09:55 PM.

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#10 Bugs

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 06:21 AM

I tell you what I am afraid of.... 25% of Africa's Rhinos lie in private hands and are becoming a burden on their protectors. The remaining 75% are being protected by government resources, but the expense is mounting. 

 

Poachers are so brazen that they will kill a rhino in front of the people who protect them, they will even kill the people who protect them to get to the rhino. No rhino is safe, and no rhino will be safe as long as there is still a market for illegal horn. 

 

Its only a mater of time before all wild rhino will be captured and moved to areas which are easier to protect. It will not be possible to protect all rhinos. I saw this happen in ZIm, where they lost the fight in Chete. The final move was to capture the remaining handful of rhinos and move them to an undisclosed location. And very soon private rhino owners will loose patience and dispose of their rhino. The logical route to dispose of rhinos is to sell them to people who want them. That would be China, who will breed them for horn anyway. 

 

I know people who have told me that we are making progress in the fight against rhino poaching. But the figures don't reflect that. I do not for a moment believe that poaching will stop should the trade be legal. There is every reason to believe that poaching should slow down. 1. There is less horn on the rhino - so it decreases the reward. 2. there is s greater risk of being caught, as there will be better funds and reason to protect rhino better. 3. there will be a route where honest genuine rhino horn can reach the market for consumption, bypassing the mafia system. 4. more people will invest in rhino breeding and Rhino will become more valuable to the private owner and to the parks board again. It should buy rhino time. In this time a new generation of people will come through who will find that there are far cheaper ways to fix a headache. 


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#11 wilddog

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 09:46 AM

very interesting interview and also the commenst that followed. I look forard to seeing the next in your series @Game Warden.



#12 Game Warden

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 10:01 AM

I'll be publishing the next exclusive interview in this series tomorrow in which I speak with Cathy Dean, Director of Save the Rhino International.


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#13 Bugs

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 02:01 PM

Awesome. 

 

I would be interested in their stance. 


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#14 Game Warden

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 12:04 AM

In the second of this special Safaritalk interview series I talk with Cathy Dean about the proposal for a one off stockpile sale, how it might affect rhino populations in other range state countries, (especially in Africa), the importance of engaging communities in conservation and anti poaching initiatives and much more...

 

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Cathy Dean - Director: Save the Rhino International.

 

Conservation of endangered species and the environment is the single most important issue for me. My fundraising, organisational and team-building skills mean that the best way I can contribute to the conservation cause is to work in the charity sector. Save the Rhino International has, effectively, become a way of life for me: I have whole-heartedly signed up to the charity, running marathons and ultra marathons to raise money, and recruiting supporters who respond to our pragmatic, bold and irreverent approach. My personal motto is “Don’t ask others to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”

 

Cathy Dean has been Save the Rhino International's Director since October 2001. Save the Rhino International works to conserve viable populations of critically endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia. "We recognise that the future of wildlife is inextricably linked to the communities that share its habitat. By funding field projects and through education, our goal is to deliver material, long-lasting and widespread benefits to rhinos and other endangered species, ecosystems and to the people living in these areas."

 

You can find out more by visiting their website here - www.savetherhino.org and Facebook page here.

 

-----------------------------

 

What is Save the Rhino International's response to the South African Govt's proposal for a one off stockpile sale? (Please provide reasoning.)

 

We are not in favour of the proposed one-off sale of rhino horn from South African stockpiles for a number of reasons: the difficulties this would create in terms of distinguishing illegal from legal horns circulating in the market; the fear that a one-off sale would increase the demand for rhino horn, that would then not be sustained by further sales, thus encouraging further poaching; the potential damage to demand reduction programmes already underway; and the concern that buyers would choose not to flood the market with rhino horn, (thus driving down price), but would stockpile / bank on extinction, driving up price and leading to an increase in poaching.

 

What steps can you take, as a large and respected foreign NGO, to try to influence the CITES decision in 2016, and likewise what communications have you had with the SA Govt on this issue?

 

I am, as Director of Save the Rhino International, a member of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, which plays an active role in advising CITES and Range State governments on such issues.

 

Save the Rhino International works to protect rhino populations in numerous countries: how will such a stockpile sale affect your work in those countries, and how will said stockpile sale be likely to affect poaching levels outside of South Africa?
 

We can entirely understand the concerns of other countries with large rhino populations that are not currently contemplating sales of rhino horns, such as Kenya and India. It’s difficult to see how a one-off stockpile sale would impact positively on demand reduction work already under way in Vietnam.

 

How would the stockpile sale impact the educational message that rhino horn has no curative properties?

 

Vietnamese rhino horn user groups do not do so for the same reasons: messages about the lack of medicinal value may work for one of these groups, but not all. As long as the price remains high, rhino horn is likely to remain desirable as a status object, whether legal or illegal. Other messages are required to reach these user groups, broadly based around the social unacceptability / disapproval of using rhino horn.

 

One off stockpile sale vs sustainable long term trade vs no trade: which of these options provides the best possible outcome to prevent the continued poaching crisis and why?

 

The goal is to have more rhinos in more, larger populations in Range States. There is no clear best option from those you list above; a lot more research and information is required before we – or anyone else – can properly say whether some form of trade would work.

 

What is your response to the statement, "If it pays it stays."? put forward by many advocates of sustainable and consumptive wildlife use.

 

It is vital that communities and stakeholders benefit from wildlife. There is a whole spectrum of options from fatal  to non-fatal, consumptive to non-consumptive; all are worth exploring in detail but not necessarily pursuing. It’s important to keep the overall goal in mind – more rhinos in more, larger populations in Range States – and to ask what are the conditions that are required to enable this.

 

How can local communities and those disenfranchised benefit from rhino conservation if they receive little or no financial recompense or incentives? 

 

A great example, from the rhino programmes that we support, is the North Luangwa Conservation Programme in Zambia, where black rhinos were introduced in four phases from 2003-2010. We help to fund ongoing rhino monitoring work and an environmental education programme, Lolesha Luangwa (LL). This currently targets 22 schools in three zones in the Game Management Areas surrounding North Luangwa National Park. An LL Officer and LL Assistant visit each school 4-5 times per year to deliver presentations focusing on NLNP, NLCP and black rhino. Throughout the year, a designated Conservation Teacher in each school delivers 20 lessons from a 96-page Teachers’ Conservation Guide (containing comprehensive lesson plans and teaching notes, and introduced via teachers’ workshops), mapped onto the national curriculum and tailored for the NLE. Each learner is given a student-specific 64-page Activity Booklet to complete during the lessons and to take home at the end of the academic year. These lessons and presentations incorporate a range of learning styles and active learning approaches, progressing from cognitive learning to problem-centred and affective explorations of the learners’ relationship with nature, climaxing with a conservation pledge that each child writes and signs. Three Conservation Celebration Days, (one per zone), are held each academic year, when 25 students and two teachers from each school deliver a day of celebrations and competitions; entire villages attend. LL’s impact is assessed through the Activity Booklets, modular and workshop feedback from the teachers, self-reflective evaluation from the LLO and learner questionnaires. Future plans include the development of Eco Clubs at each school, when students will develop further life skills: practical learning such as sustainable crop cultivation, caterpillar collection, composting, tree planting, water conservation, human-elephant conflict-mitigation; reinforcing school-based learning, including literacy, English-language and environmental citizenship; and values, such as instilling a sense of pride in their culture / history and their community, building team spirit and confidence, offering an enriching experience and revealing new skills and talents. The Clubs will introduce schoolchildren to mentors / role models from the community, (e.g.  ZAWA scouts, NLCP and tourist-industry employees, successful farmers, etc.), exposing them to alternative employment and training opportunities. These measures are expected to help reduce unemployment and poverty for the next generation within the Game Management Areas.

 

How important, in your opinion, is it that private owners and farmers continue to breed and maintain rhino herds in South Africa, whether they are pro trade or or not?

 

It’s vital that private owners and farmers continue to breed and maintain rhino populations in South Africa. Privately owned rhinos in SA account for approx. 25% of the national population, and the land they are held on is collectively is equivalent to the size of Kruger NP.

 

Dr Ian Player, (who I interviewed for Safaritalk here), was responsible for bringing the Southern white rhino back from the brink of extinction through Operation Rhino: can you ever foresee that rhino numbers will plummet again to such an extreme level and who should be responsible for their protection? Govt? Private Sector? National and international NGOs etc?

 

Yes, we do worry that this could happen: current predictions are that if poaching continues to escalate at the current rate, rhinos could become effectively extinct in the wild by 2026. All parties – government, private sector, national and international NGOs etc – are responsible for rhino protection. We are concerned that, at present, Range State and consumer country governments are not doing enough, for example: Kenya has still not passed its new Wildlife Bill that would increase the penalties for rhino, (and elephant), poaching; Mozambique’s wildlife laws still regard rhino poaching as a minor misdemeanour, and Vietnam has failed to convict any rhino horn traffickers as far as we are aware.

 

What are Save the Rhino International's long term objectives in protecting rhino populations in range states? What is your answer to the poaching crisis?

 

More rhinos in more, larger populations in Range States. There is no single magic bullet: we need a combination of approaches: increased protection, increased deterrents, community engagement, demand reduction, political will etc.

 

Matthew, thanks for these excellent questions.  All the best, Cathy

 

 

 

The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.


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#15 pault

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 06:53 PM

Great stuff. I really need more time to digest all of this, but it is a fantastic idea putting the different viewpoints from people who all really care about the current crisis in one place. If the quality of the interviews continues like this, I may even be finally able to make up my mind about the issue.. But it seems pretty clear already that a one-off sale is really not in the rhinos' interest. I hope someone will try and defend that (as in the rhinos' interest) honestly since it is disturbing to me that people think this can possibly do anything but legitimize what is totally unacceptable behavior.... I do understand the rest of the argument of course - mainly thanks to dikdik's posts over the years.
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Waiting again... for the next time again


#16 Game Warden

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 05:00 AM

In the third of this special Safaritalk interview series I talk with Garnett Cantor about the proposal for a one off stockpile sale, from the viewpoint of a rhino owner, opposed to rhino farmer, to whom rhino are an important asset in Kragga Kamma Game Park, a tourist park which he runs with his family close to Port Elizabeth.

 

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Garnett Cantor: Kragga Kamma Game Park.

 

Garnett Cantor was one of the pioneers of tourist orientated game parks in South Africa. He developed his first park in the early seventies, acquiring his first white rhino from lifelong friend Ken Rochat of Hluhuwe Umfolozi in Natal. Garnett also successfully bred cheetah including the rare king cheetah. He, along with his family, own and run the Kragga Kamma Game Park as well as another bigger farm just outside Port Elizabeth. Although all operations are run as businesses, the best interests of the wildlife is a priority. KKGP makes it possible for members of the community to see, get to know and appreciate a variety of animals.

 

Garnett has continued to breed a number of cheetah over the years, more recently allowing the mothers to raise their cubs, which is not the norm.

 

To find out more about Kragga Kamma Game Park and the conservation work Garnett does, visit their website here - www.kraggakamma.com

 

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What is the difference between a rhino farmer and a rhino owner?

 

To keep Rhino you must have a farm so by definition they're all farmers. The difference as I see it is that Rhino owners keep Rhinos as an attraction for tourism or for their own enjoyment and therefore all of them prefer to have them with their horns on. Rhino "farmers" produce Rhinos for re-sale or hunting purposes, i.o.w. to produce an income as with other livestock. To my knowledge all the Rhino in the Cape Province are kept by "owners".

 

Which are you?

 

At K.K.G.P. we definitely fall in the category of Rhino "owners".

 

If owners/farmers are given the green light to sell their stockpiled horn, (if applicable), would you sell yours? If so, under what conditions?

 

Our horns which have been removed, as a counter measure against poaching, we would sell, but through a legally set up, controlled channel. Once we have the poaching under control, we definitely will no longer remove and sell horns - they are worth more to us with their horns on than the value of the horns, irrespective of the price.

 

How would legalised trade help the small scale owner/farmer?

 

Legalized selling of horns will generate some income for the small owner from horns already removed. Rhino with horns are more valuable for us so we will not harvest horns on a regular basis.

 

In your opinion would a legalised trade lead to more people buying rhino and having them on their land?

 

Legalizing the sale will benefit the Rhino "farmer" and could lead to less mortality. It would also benefit the "owners" who would be the only ones with "intact" Rhino for tourists to see.

 

How good/bad is the Govt's proposal for a one off stockpile sale? Please provide reasoning for answer.

 

Based on our experience with the auction of elephant ivory this method of selling will not benefit the Rhino "farmers" or the Rhino. It is impossible to verify the buyers at an auction. Horns must be sold to individual buyers who can be fully investigated and verified.

 

How important is it for the future of the rhino to have more owners/farmers breeding and maintaining herds in various parts of South Africa?

 

"Farmers" will only farm with animals that can produce an income. If the animal has no commercial value they will not keep it. "Owners" who have different objectives, (as per question 1. above), will always keep Rhino.

 

How would the lifting of the trade embargo undermine the work Rhino NGOs have done until now, especially with regard to the question of educating the Oriental audience to the ineffectiveness of horn's curative properties?

 

The only real achievement by the various NGO's up to now has been creating the awareness.  Unfortunately they have had no success in limiting the poaching. No amount of lobbying and education of the Orientals will ever achieve anything. Thousands of years of tradition will not be given up voluntarily - strict legislation in these countries will help.

 

How would legalised trade affect rhino NGOs? Would there be less need for so many of them?

 

In spite of the huge amount of funds generated, the NGO's have largely been unsuccessful.

 

How would you see legalised trade affecting rhino populations outside of South Africa?

 

Rhino populations outside Africa do much better and it will benefit the Rhino if more of them live overseas. Last year we exported 12 Rhino to a zoo in Vietnam and they are being very well looked after and they are very safe. About 70% of the Rhino in Kruger are poached by Mozambique. This should be classified as an act of war on our country - our Government should withhold all aid or subsidies until they stop. In the meanwhile, we the citizens of South Africa should immediately stop visiting and touring Mozambique.

 

To the best of my knowledge all Rhinos outside of S A are kept by "owners", (zoos and sanctuaries), so I believe the same attitude as with Rhino "owners" will prevail and they will prefer to keep the horns on.

 

Some thoughts on Rhino Farmers.

 

As mentioned above, they farm for profit but we should keep in mind that Rhino herds, (larger numbers), are notorious for conflict and it is estimated that close to ten percent, (male and females), are killed annually by other Rhinos. Excess bulls, especially the older ones who usually have horns of 28" or more, are all likely to be killed or die anyway. It seems logical that horns from these fatalities should be sold or they could be hunted. Current legislations do cover these aspects. The game farmers should have some incentive to keep farming with Rhino, otherwise the only big herds we'll have are those in the Parks. At the end of the day I think the farmers do a better job of looking after their Rhino than our Parks.

 

The sale of Rhino horns from deceased or hunted animals will keep the Rhino farmers interested. We should never allow the sale of horns which have been harvested because the flooding of the market will have exactly the opposite effect that is being predicted. It will dramatically increase demand, lower prices will attract billions more Orientals into the market and poaching is still the best option for the suppliers rather than purchasing it legally. In any event we are not able to police this activity, particularly when 70% of it is happening in a foreign country.

 

 

The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.


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#17 Game Warden

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 06:14 PM

This week I'm in conversation with Peter Milton, whom I've previously interviewed for Safaritalk here. Having witnessed first hand the results of many poaching cases he is very well placed to comment on the destruction the illegal rhino horn trade is causing to South Africa's rhino population and having set up his own respected NGO, Peter's opinion of the trade proposal and other points re the rhino's future are well worth reading.

 

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Peter Milton with Dr. Ian Player.

 

Peter was born in the Kalahari, a desert wilderness area, in South Africa. His parents were both nature and animal lovers, and introduced a value system in him at a very young age which embraced a deep respect and love for fauna and flora. His formative years were hugely influenced by conservation issues. Peter and his family always lived far away from towns and cities throughout Southern Africa and over the years, nature and wildlife conservation became the cornerstone of his existence.

At the age of 19, Peter was drafted into the South African Army, an event which rudely interrupted his wildlife studies. His natural bush and survival skills stood him in good stead during the period of the Angolan conflict and others. The unit that he served with allowed him to once again, live very close to nature.

On leaving the army, Peter invested into various business efforts. He dabbled in the early years of information technology and did a lot of wildlife photography for various game reserves. His intention was to remain/become financially secure in order to commit himself fully to conservation efforts. Peter decided to form his own conservation company and Strategic Protection Of Threatened Species (SPOTS) was born. Peter now lives his life where each day allows him to make a difference to that which he holds so dear – nature and wildlife conservation.

To discover more about the work SPOTS SA undertakes, visit their website here - www.spots.org.za
 

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What are the instances of rhino poaching you’ve personally seen and been involved in dealing with?
 
Too many...but there again I think that witnessing just one poaching is enough to motivate most people to do everything possible to fight against the poaching of these beautiful creatures. The site of this majestic animal reduced to a bloodied and butchered ruin, the stench and the sound of an orphaned calf's plaintive call for its dead mother is not something that will ever leave your memory and senses. There again, to taste victory in the capture of poachers before they have managed to wreak this havoc has also provided me with motivation to continue the fight. We simply must win.
 
The South African government is putting forward a proposal for a one off stockpile sale, (decision in 2016): how do they intend this to tackle the rhino poaching crisis? How will the income generated be spent?
 
It would seem that the RSA governments motivation to have a one-off sale of stockpiled horn, is to place a significant tonnage of the product into the market and thus reduce demand for poached horn. It has been estimated that there is some 18,000 kg of horn in government stockpile. The street price per kg in China is widely reported to be some $65,000 per kg. So let us assume that an auction price of $20,000 per kg is realized, then this amounts to some $360,000,000. Yes, the maths is staggering. There has been no indication of how, or for what, this money would be used...other than to suggest that it could be used for "conservation".
 
Who would stand to benefit the most from a one off sale?
 
Well, the RSA government would be the first direct beneficiary as indicated above. If we further consider that there is reported to be some 4000kg in private stockpile and assuming the same price calculations above, then private owners would benefit to the tune of some $80,000,000. If the RSA government announces its intention to include private stockpile in the one-off auction, it is likely that there are going to be whole lot more dehorned rhino walking about?
 
How would such a sale influence the value of rhino horn, and thus, what would be the knock on effect on poaching?
 
That remains to be seen. But if past attempts to reduce demand for ivory by dumping tonnage into the market is anything to go by, then I am not hopeful that the desired market dynamics will be achieved.
 
What is your opinion on the following three options:  which is best for the future of rhino in SA - a one off stockpile sale, continuous sustainable trade or no trade at all?
 
This is a very difficult and highly contentious question. A once-off sale of stockpiled horn could have an immediate positive effect on poaching incidence...it may put sufficient product into the market to satisfy demand for a while. But, that cannot be guaranteed and nor can a reduction in price to the end consumer. This auctioned horn, may simply find its way into stockpiles in China and Vietnam from where it will be sold at the current high price. This will allow for the syndicates behind poaching to continue to ply their trade. They have already created a " superior product market"...advocating that "wet poached horn" is far superior to "dry horn". I do not believe that the syndicates will simply turn away from dealing in rhino horn simply because trade has been legalized, or because there is tonnage placed into the market. They have made billions out of their illegal activities...and they aren't going to want to stop. There are arguments that even if the one-off sale offers us a respite in poaching, we should take this and use the time to get our international house in order...to get the international plans and actions to combat wildlife trafficking in order...to get our RSA based anti-poaching initiatives in action. Perhaps this is so, but it remains a big gamble.
 
The second option of continuous sustainable trade begs that 3 questions be answered:

  • What is the current demand for an illegal product. The answer is that we really have no idea. All we do know, is that Africa has lost most of its rhino over the past 10 years or so...just how many is clouded in doubt...and the RSA, as a result, is under huge poaching pressure.
  • What will demand grow to. Again, we have no idea.
  • Just how many rhino do we have. The answer to this question seems somewhat grey and until thorough and accurate census data is available, it will remain conjecture and guess work.

The potential for continued no trade raises furious and heated debate. There are those who will state, quite correctly, that our efforts to stem the poaching onslaught have thus far failed and it is time for radical and bold decisions to be made. Quite clearly, we need to do way more than we have thus far. Perhaps the answer to this lies in international political will. How long can the world sit back and watch China and Vietnam plundering the African continents wildlife...how long can we sit and watch Mozambique and other African countries turning a blind eye to wildlife trafficking, gun and drug running...human trafficking ?. International criminal syndicates are seeing Africa as a rich picking ground due to graft and corruption at high levels and a lack of international political will to combat all manner of illegal activities. If we legalize trade in rhino horn...what are we going to allow ourselves to be pressured into legalising next ?.
 
How would the decision to go ahead with a stockpile sale affect the work of not only SPOTS International, but other rhino NGOs on the ground in South Africa?
 
Again a difficult question whose answer is probably based largely on supposition. We could perhaps hope that there would be a stemming in the current poaching rate. However, we could also perhaps anticipate that there would be little effect at all if the ivory dumping exercise is to stand as an example. What we do anticipate, is that whether we legalize trade, or release product through a once-off sale, rhino poaching will not stop overnight. It may slow down, but for how long we do not know. So, the work of SPOTS and other direct action companies and organisations will have to continue. Of great concern in this regard, is that there may now be many who anticipate legalised trade and/or a once of auction of rhino horn - will their response to this potential be a significant increase in poaching and stockpiling? If the intention is to flood an illegal market, how is this going to be controlled, how are we going to know the difference between "legal" and "illegal" when right now, we can't control illegal trade?
 
What would be the impact on a one off sale on the message that rhino horn has no curative properties and the work that some NGOs are doing to educate the end user in oriental countries?
 
The question of legalised trade or a one-off sale does raise moral and ethical questions. Those who are working hard on education programs to dispel the myth of medical properties in rhino horn are appalled at the idea of sale or trade - one can easily see why. The other question often raised, is what message do we send our youth....is it ok to address an illegal activity simply by legalising it, or do we fight for that which we believe in. Again, the question of international political will must be asked.
 
Why are there so many rhino NGOs operating and how do they work with the private owners and farmers? What is the general consensus about the one off stockpile sale? And how many, in your opinion, would be in favour of a long term sustainable trade?
 
I think that the proliferation of organisations and groups has come about as a result of large-scale dissatisfaction with what is being done to combat the assault on our fragile wildlife resources. As one noted dignitary recently told me " this is not just about rhino poaching...it is an issue of national security". And he is right...we cannot expect a country's people to sit idly by and watch our borders being ignored and disrespected, our legal rights to law and order being treated with flagrant disregard, our heritage being plundered and our neighboring states harbouring those with criminal intentions against us. We cannot sit and watch as those who are tasked, or those who have tasked themselves, with the protection of wildlife, being shot, murdered, by poaching gangs. Many have, as a result decided to try and do something. There is also no doubt that there are those who decided to attempt to profit from the situation....who go out to raise funds for the fight against poaching and then use such funds purely for their own benefit. But, there is work being done on that. SPOTS was recently invited to take part in discussions withe the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). There were only 20 NGO's invited to do so - and these were those that have been recognized to be making a valuable and measurable contribution to the fight against rhino poaching.
 
If there was to be a reopening of trade, do you envisage that there would be an increase in private owners and farmers around South Africa investing in rhino, breeding herds, perhaps turning over livestock or agricultural properties to maintaining rhino? How good a thing would this be for rhino numbers and genetic diversity?
 
There are many who will tell you that today, a dead rhino is worth more than a live one. To the private owner, this is undoubtedly true. He will pay somewhere around R 400,000 for a rhino at auction and will spend significantly on its ranging and security. But if his rhino was poached, he knows that its horn would fetch some R1,500,000 before it even leaves the country. This obviously is a huge frustration to the private owner and is a source of discouragement to become involved in rhino ownership and/or breeding. Hence the call from many private owners for a system of legalised trade. On the other hand, we must consider tourism revenue and when we do, how do we place a value on rhino...the rhino in private and state owned reserves that millions of tourists come to see together with the other of the Big Five. Is it safe to assume that there exists sufficient gene-pool strength in state owned reserves to ensure the future genetic strength of the species...many would say yes and just as many would say no. What we do know, is that if current poaching trends continue, then we will see the demise of the southern white rhino - and if we allow that to happen, we will see the demise of many other species. Again, the question of international political will must be raised.
 
Whose responsibility is the protection of wild rhino?
 
It is the responsibility of all governments and citizens of the world to fight against the illegal trafficking in animal parts. It is our combined right and obligation to defend our wildlife heritage ...to protect and nurture it for future generations. I am perhaps lucky, that my upbringing led me to this fudemental belief...and I know I am fortunate to be able to work towards that in which I believe so steadfastly. But, we must all reflect on the these words " we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors...we borrow it from our children".
 
Thanks Matt, as always, a pleasure. Peter.
 
 

The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.


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#18 KazCobb

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 02:52 PM

I have to say that I'm anti pro trade.  I feel the trading or Rhino horn will encourage poaching because you will then have the little man eager for money.

 

Most pro trade are actually, as you say, the Rhino farmers that have the stockpiles.  They want to sell to be come rich.  But one question I always ask these farmers is, since when does the Rhino belong to you.  These are wild animals not pets.

 

If you want to read our own little investigation, here is the link.

 

 

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#19 panther61

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 09:40 PM

I  want legal trade of rhino horn  much sooner than later,with incremental sales of horn. Too many rhinos,aborted rhino fetuses and orphaned/abandone rhino calves are  being killed because of  the trade ban :-(



#20 Calvin

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 02:01 PM

A sustained Legal trade allows source of horn to be known and accountable, encourages sustainable use, and would allow pricing to be controlled to take away the incentive for 'poachers' to kill wild rhino. For sure, if there is no trade, the price will continue to increase and encourage even more good people to take out rhinos, hereby consigning them to certain extinction...and don't even imagine that the demand in the east can be reduced through PR campaigns and naming and shaming...these are proud people with ancient history, family traditions and 5000 year history of using horn,mand they are not going to listen to a few shouting mzungus. Indeed, they have every incentive now to kill of Africa's rhino because they have a growing herd of their own AND THEY WILL SELL horn - legal or not.. If I were john Hume and amongst the legal trade advocates, I would urgently get the Chinese rhino farmers on board and included in the rhino horn supplier selling cooperative so that they are on board with the program for sustainable use generally, as a partner..
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