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.
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
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.