Michael Lorentz

To trade or not to trade..

292 posts in this topic

It was Leonardo da Vinci, the great Renaissance-era mathematician, architect and artist, who said: “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards a ship without a rudder and compass, and never knows where he may cast.” It is this same rash approach that is being used by the proponents of trade in rhino horn, argues Professor Alejandro Nadal, in his co-authored critique of pro-rhino horn trade literature. By IAN MICHLER.

 

This is a review of a recent paper on the rhino horn debate - read Ian's full article here: http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-06-12-leonardos-sailors-seeking-new-solutions-to-sas-rhino-poaching-crisis/#.U5llr42Sxsj

 

And for those who are interested in the whole paper, I have attached a pdf: WP5-Nadal and Aguayo-Leonardos Sailors-2014.pdf

 

Surely this must now be the final nail in the pro-trade coffin and we can get on with conserving rhino's. This entire trade argument has had disastrous consequences for rhino already.

 

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@@Michael Lorentz

 

There has been quite a bit of debate on this subject on Safaritalk, with both anti-trade (the majority) and pro-trade participating.

 

Knowing him, it will not take timemuch for @@Game Warden to point you out to a few interesting threads.

 

(I have not contributed to any of them, since I felt I was too ignorant on the subject and I could not add anything of value or different from other participants' positions)

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Let's face facts; there are simply too few rhinos left to carry on a trade in rhino horn. As for the poor elephants they're already under attack by poachers, and hunters so a legal trade would only diminish their numbers further, The hunters refuse to admit that elephant numbers are falling, one can see it on their hunting sites.

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@@optig This topic is about rhino, not elephant. Let's not wander...

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@@Michael Lorentz yes, as @@Paolo says, there have been many indepth discussions about this issue on Safaritalk. Let me direct you to an interview series about trade which I conducted here. More focused on whether there should be a stockpile sale. (These also featured in the first issue of Safaritalk's magazine.)

 

Also listen to Ian Player's comments in this Safaritalk video interview series.

 

Likewise worth reading the interview with John Hume here, someone who I have personally visited. (Currently with 1000 + rhino and aiming by the end of next year to surpass 200 births per year. More rhino than Kenya.)

 

Peter Milton also puts forward his opnion about trade in this interview.

 

Whether trade goes ahead or not as you know won't be decided until COP 17, and therefore if a decision is taken to open trade, realistically it won't happen until 2018.

 

Whatever that decision is, one thing that all maybe can agree upon is that the current status quo is not working. Conserve or preserve. Maybe that is the question we need to ask.

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Thanks @@Game Warden - I have been fairly actively involved in this issue and I ask you to please read the article and paper I posted higher up. I am aware of all the above views you mention and do feel that whilst Hume has done much great work, there is obviously considerable self interest in trade going ahead.

 

I guess my view in a nutshell is that whilst I fully understand the sustainable use model and see its value in some circumstances, it is not a blanket solution and would be disastrous in the case of rhino. The economic modelling has been carefully looked at and for me the Jury is in. Legal trade will be the final nail in the coffin for the extinction of wild rhino, end of story. All that will be left are farmed population, mostly in Asia. So whilst the animal may be 'preserved' in highly managed intensive farms for a while, it will be a conservation failure.

 

We need to hit the 'demand' problem and the only way to do that is to make rhino horn valueless. We cannot succeed by increasing the supply chain and therefore increasing demand. This is simple economic principle.

 

The website http://conservationaction.co.za/ has a number of excellent articles on the trade issue, written by people far more erudite, knowledgeable and involved than I - please go and take a browse.

 

I am fairly passionate about this issue as I honestly believe its been a disaster for rhino's and a great distraction for their conservation. Even the good guys are fighting, which makes the bad guys rub their hands in glee. We need to put this debate to bed once and for all and start dealing with the real issues.

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Legal trade will be the final nail in the coffin for the extinction of wild rhino

 

This is the crux of the issue: how would legal trade impact upon the wild herd, whether in SA or other range state countries? Another point which was brought up on my trip to SA, is that with the rhinos already being farmed in China, is it not in the trader's interest to kill as many rhino in Africa so as to corner the market so to speak? Yes, of course with John Hume there is a financial interest, but one cannot dismiss his experience and expertise as many do. It was quite an eye opening visit I had with him.

 

whilst the animal may be 'preserved' in highly managed intensive farms for a while, it will be a conservation failure.

 

Unfortunately it appears to me as a concerned outsider that conservation is already failing...

 

Re the paper, absolutely I'll read it, in fact I think it was what Colin Bell referenced when I spoke with him in advance of the We are Africa conservation conference. I have asked him to follow up on our discussion for Safaritalk and publish here an overview of what we discussed but heard nothing more. (This is the first time I've actually seen this paper BTW). In fact, Colin's argument is the most convincing I've heard for no trade, but then, on the flipside, John Hume's is the most convincing I've heard for pro trade.

 

It should also be noted that following discussions with Allison Thomson of OSCAP, I submitted to her a long list of questions for an interview before Christmas however she later refused to do the interview. Those interviews above represent a number of views, both anti and pro trade and I've always maintained Safaritalk takes an unbiased stance and provides a platform for those wanting to discuss the issue, whatever their own stance. Including those who are on the fence.

 

ST cannot ever influence the outcome of COP 17 - and my own feeling on such a decision is how should and who should take part in the vote? Should the destination countries be allowed a vote? Should non range state countries have a vote? Which organisations can influence votes and what are the politics of the voting system?

 

There are people who are saying that trade will work, there are those who are saying it won't. But nothing is working right now.

 

Are those who are anti trade willing to risk the future of wild rhinos on a non sustainable plan, relying on NGOs and donor streams, Governments and private entities financing rhino conservation.

 

On the flipside, are those who are pro trade willing to risk the future of the wild rhino based upon the model of sustainable use, private ownership - a financial model: what if their plan doesn't work?

 

What are wildlife managers saying? Not NGOs or the tourism sector but those people, entities, involved on the ground with rhino management?

 

A question that became apparent to me in SA recently was this one. If COP 17 votes no trade, what will happen then to all these organisations and people who are fighting for no trade. They will have won. So what will they do next? Move onto something else? What if it vote goes pro trade, will they continue to keep fighting? Or accept the decision and work with the new regulations?

 

How many range state governments that are now taking an anti trade standpoint would in fact dehorn and sell if the decision went yes? How keen would they be to realise the value of any horn stockpiles they have?

 

But whatever decision is taken, all range state governments must commit to it, because at the moment, the question I have is how committed to ending the rhino poaching are they?

 

You might also have a look at this topic in which I put forward an idea of setting up a number of small scale farms run in co-operation with local communities at various locations in SA. The initial lead in to the discussion was criticized at the time, perhaps rightly so.

 

My questions to those opposed to trade, or farming/breeding rhino for sale, auction etc, is - what is your solution, and how will you ever make rhino horn valueless in a time frame which doesn't see the wild rhino going extinct.

 

My questions to pro traders - how will trade help protect the wild rhino and what if you are wrong?

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Has there been any rebuttle to the Nadal paper by other economists such as 't Sas-Rolfes?

 

Here a two previous papers of his examining the trade issue.

 

Article analysing the market factors driving the recent rhino poaching crisis. (2012)

 

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One thing I will say with some certainty is that neither side can know with any degree of accuracy what the effect of their stance will be and they are kidding both themselves and all the rest of us if they think that they can.

 

Like many important, critical decisions, in the end it will be a blind plunge in the dark. We never ask our Generals if they know for certain that we will win a battle never mind a war when they decide on their tactics.

 

Personally, the ones I can't or won't trust are the ones whose personal investment make their opinions tainted by self interest.

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There are people who are saying that trade will work, there are those who are saying it won't. But nothing is working right now.

 

Does the support for pro trade comes just from this argument? Its indeed extremely flimsy then.

 

 

Are those who are anti trade willing to risk the future of wild rhinos on a non sustainable plan, relying on NGOs and donor streams, Governments and private entities financing rhino conservation.

 

Have you seen the balance sheet of an NGO that works properly? I spent some time looking at APN's donor base ( just the handful that is publicized). It is a gross mistake to condemn this source as trivial or flimsy.

 

 

"Are those that are anti-trade willing to risk the future of wild rhinos........" - How did we come to this assumption that anti-trade supporters are risking the future of wild rhinos? And not the pro trade ones?

 

I will like to make few more comments in this thread ( which I think and hope we will keep live as someone with Michael's experience who lives in South Africa and sees on a day to day basis things happening around, can continue to be a very valuable contributor ) but I dont think its as easy as saying " Ofcourse John Hume has financial interests BUT......" Lets look at the degree of financial interest first and examine then why are we going behind a man who keeps rhinos all but caged ( at a .02 sq mile per rhino space this is unimaginable) . When I read about his farm, I think of the Matrix. This is not a joke. There is something very wrong here in the pro-trade argument and the wrong things are staring at us visually- lets examine those from the time in the 1990s when businessmen running taxis and motels started acquiring land to become conservationists.

 

And lets not forget what proportion of his rhinos have been bought from the wild. And all the scams of his rhino population dieing are kept muted ( He bought 72 white rhinos in 2009 from San Parks of which 10 died in that very year, this year he has lost atleast 32 rhinos and scientists claim this is because of the condition in which they live and a growing bacterial infection - and this is probably just ta tip of the iceberg - i.e what I know )

 

Anyway this is not the argument. The argument comes from the demand side - You want to tell a population of roughly 2 billion people that its okay to consume rhino horns? Are genuine conservationists who for whatever reason believe in pro-trade ( i.e. those pro-trade people with no financial interests) willing to take this risk with wild rhinos? - where you would be lucky if the impact of this action would last beyond your lifetime because in reality every wild rhino would be de-wilded once human greed takes over in that scale and things become legal - we have a wonderful way of justifying to ourselves why what we are doing is the right thing. If even before the trade argument, we can justify that 1000 rhinos live jampacked and that 2 billion people will now legally be allowed to buy rhino horn ( and that by association those 2 billion people would never be convinced why ivory is wrong when rhino horn is right), then we are kidding ourselves that we are doing this for the rhinos. We are just laying the perfect argument for why we can lose the habitat and save the species.

 

Isnt it funny that South Africa has not seen ivory poachers but look at the scale of rhino poaching there? So alarming? Sometimes I wonder if there is a correlation in the increase of poaching and the increase in the decibel levels for pro trade- something along the lines of make your argument strong enough and it would be easier to pass this legislation. Not trying to be dramatic, but what pro-traders will bring to the plight of wild rhinos is a lot more uncertain than the plight of wild rhinos today. And a lot more dismal. We have had members who are pro-trade here, admit that it wont bring poaching down.

 

If your kids and wives and husbands get shot in a mall-shootout , you dont go around keeping them under lock and key in your house- you examine law enforcement, you examine, gun legislation, you punish the wrong doers. The answer is staring at us in terms of what is required to do to combat the poaching crisis but the people with financial interests will never acknowledge that as an answer ever because there is just one agenda.

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Actually I made one mistake - It should be a population of 3 billion people and not 2 billion above- Because it would be most interesting to see the resonating effect on the largely poor and exploding population of Africa- on pangolin, ivory poaching, why should gorillas not be poached and killed, And why is the Serengeti highway wrong if rhino horn trade is legal- The wildies will adapt afterall.

 

And then there is the whole disease and impact on nature side of it that we have not considered either - probably need to keep those rhinos in disinfected plastic bubbles.

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Well said @@Anita. In addition the same problems that are the bedevilling rhino protection now would affect any legal trade.A lack of money to enforce protection would translate to a lack of money to enforce legal trade,but with the added fun of making it easier for poachers to hide illegal horn behind legal products.The only practical solution now is better protection.And in the longer term better education of those who want the products.Whether its killing grebes for woman's fashions in Victorian times,nearly leading to their UK extinction, stealing eggs from birds of prey, the answer has been protection,outcry forcing those in power to act and education.Why are rhinos any different?

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TRADING RHINO TO EXTINCTION - Our choice.

 

The ante is obviously upping leading to the CITES meeting in Cape Town to try to legalize trade in rhino horn. Many vested interests abound. Among them SANParks, (in their current rudderless and governance turmoil), and vested interests on the Board also, want to cash in on hundreds of millions of Rand worth of horn stockpiles. It seems that government is leaning in that direction, though with some schizoid indecision at times. This post is a call to arms to the public to lobby AGAINST the trade in rhino. Here are our considered reasons:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

Over the last 10 years the Landmark Foundation that embarked on a deliberate adversarial campaign to address top trophic level conservation issues on productive landscapes in the arena of human wildlife conflict. This has won us pundits and enemies, as the campaign was controversial, if not well-reasoned. The controversy is centred on our deliberate campaign to expose hidden agendas that drive the destruction of biodiversity. We do so unapologetically and without fear or favour. Our approach is not common in the conservation sector.

 

We believe we have gotten to the stage in the efforts to prevent species extinction, (and rhinos being a classic example of such an imperilled species, but practically all top tropic species are in a similar predicament), where resolute, brave and tenacious leadership is needed to stem the tide of the decimation that is taking place. I believe that to date, whatever has been employed to fight this scourge, has made minimal impact. The time has come for forthright advocacy and direct action to save the species from this peril.

 

We further believe that business as usual in the conservation sector will not save the species and certainly a “never on a Sunday” style of conservation action is not going to have impact. We need to act with purpose and with the entire ambit of tools at our disposal.

 

The rhino issue is worth pondering as illustration to what we mean. The threat faced by rhino is a supply and demand matter, and unless we are able to decrease the demand, the supply operators will always gain ascendancy, particularly with the prices that are driving the market. Sadly, most conservation actions have centred on supply side interventions, which alone will only act, at best, in a “holding” capacity. Based on evidence, it’s not even remotely demonstrating a turn-around in the issue. In the light of this, the pro-trade debate is gaining ascendancy out of desperation of some, and the expediency and simple greed of others. The programme needs to define its objective of species protection and, through reasoned action, target outputs to ensure that.

 

In applying our minds to this we thought it worthwhile to look back and see where this rhino crisis has come from. We looked at the facts that are in the public domain. (We are not certain, nor claim, that all these figures are 100% correct, but even if a few are a little off the mark, the general trends are correct.) There may be many gaps that need filling in, but we have highlighted key events in our opinion. We wish to be so bold to draw some conclusions from these facts and offer some opinions on the possible road ahead.

 

PLEASE REFER TO ATTACHED TABLE. (PDF file)

 

Rhino Key Events.pdf

 

We believe in trying to address the rhino crisis it remains essential to try to understand how supply and demand affect this and other species. Our wilful interventions on either side of this supply and demand curve are to affect the outcome of rhino conservation, and sadly many, many other species. Some believe the promotion of supply through the profit motive is to be the key in the efforts to preserve the species, and we, in turn, believe the answer lies in the destruction of the demand. The two methods are and will remain mutually exclusive and opposed to one another.

 

There is other middle of the road options that will merely entrench the status quo.

 

It is important to note from the table above:

 

1. The rhino populations pre-1977, (WHILE TRADE WAS OPERATIONAL), were plummeting globally, (with some success stories in SA). The rhino population, while trade was banned, were plummeting globally, (though they did grow in SA to 20 000+, but SA did not stop trading rhinos at this time, albeit as trophies, but were clearly continuing to supply the horn market and still does). Thus the extinction was happening whatever was done – it was just a matter of time that ZERO on the graph was to be reached and will be reached. The trade embargo of 1977 cannot now be blamed for the crisis. The assumption that the rhino populations would revert to growth post trade introduction now is not based on a shred of evidence, but mere conjecture. If anything thus, the populations grew during the ban (at least in SA)! This is supported by the experience with the elephants (The current poaching crisis is new).

We believe hunting, (and the hunting industry often trumpets this), wrongfully credits themselves for the expansion of rhino numbers in South Africa from the 1960s. If official figures are to be believed, between Kruger National Parks and KZN Wildlife, the two state entities currently have 15 000 rhinos between them. Then that leaves the remaining 5000 that is said to be in South Africa. Uneducated guesses say that the remaining formal protected areas have, (let us say), 50% of these, i.e. 2500, which leaves 2500 in private hands. We can hear the howls of protests as we state that, but let us give the benefit of the doubt and say that the private ownership figure is 5000. Of these probably 50% is in non-hunting ownership. Thus the hunting industry,\ merely account for at best 2500 rhinos in South Africa. As most/all of the formal protected areas do not hunt rhinos, and 50% of privately owned rhinos are not hunted animals, it demonstrates that a very low percentage, (10 – 12%), is held in hunting ownership – probably half of that. It thus stands to reason that it is fair to say it is laughable to assert that the rhino populations have grown because of hunting and thus to state that pro-trade approaches should be followed due to the fact that hunting saved rhino from extinction is just simply a misrepresentation of the facts. Perhaps 90% or more of rhinos in South Africa are from populations that are not hunted. It is that conservation actions, (AND NOT HUNTING), that caused the increase in rhino numbers.

2. If the ban of 1977 was the cause of dwindling rhino numbers and poaching crisis as suggested by the pro-trade lobby, why were the numbers during trade, (pre 1977), dwindling and it is now suggested that it would reverse if trade is introduced? Can we thus not blame trade, (pre 1977), for precipitating the demand and establishing what appears to be an insatiable demand?

3. Looking at ivory: “An international ban on selling ivory came into force in 1989 after endemic poaching sent Africa's elephant populations into free-fall. Between 1979 and 1989 the number of elephants in Africa halved from1.3 million to 625,000, with Kenya alone losing 85 per cent of its elephants.” Jerome Taylor, The Independent. Why then such a decimation while trade was active and after the 1989 ban a massive recovery of elephant numbers? Kenyan numbers in 1989 was 20 000 and today 30 000.

4. Oft quoted recovery of rhinos in SA from the 1960s is simplistically linked to trade, (and hunting – see above), and thus the need for trade, while little consideration is given that the world human population has more than doubled since the 1960s, (from just over 3 billion to now about 7.3 billion), and with it demand, consumerism, globalisation, illicit trade of various substances and goods, and increase in affluence. The world is a very different place 50 years on from a time when you ran down rhinos on horse-back. It is farfetched to blame the ban on trade for the increase in illegal/poached trade.

5. What is good for the goose is good or the gander. If the legal trade coincided before 1977 with declining numbers, then if the logic holds, legal trade was the cause of the decline. I would contend the issue is FAR more complex than the current simplistic sound bites aimed at motivating trade. Correlation is not the same as causation.

6. It is most interesting to note that the spike in poaching, (rhino and elephants), coincides with the “once off” ivory stockpile trade in 1999 and 2008/2009 and the surge in rhino sales from the conservation bodies in South Africa, (SANParks and KZN wildlife), both these actions and trophy hunting conspired to build a market for wildlife products trade and a supply that is now steam-rolling. The poachers just got in on the act…

7. We cannot outbreed/out-trade a market of 3 billion, (Asian) people + off a base of 20 000 rhinos!? Trade will always be there, the big question is whether to allow for legal and the inevitable illegal trade and what to do about the latter. The pro-traders claim the money they get it would buy them the capacity to counter the latter. That is not supported by evidence. In fact the establishment of legal trade will enhance and stimulate the concurrent illegal trade.

8. Poaching is always cheaper than production of rhino/legal hunts.

9. Probably 90% of all poaching is taking place on state land, (that holds 75% of rhino), in SA. On this state land we have state resources and an army to defend these beasts. What do you suggest the money, (the reason for the trade), would be able to do to stem this tide of destruction? Evidence suggests the more they spend, the more the rhino dies – look at Kruger and SA rhino poaching stats that reached 1000 last year, (and that does not include a probable 20% under-count due to carcasses not found). Would it not be more expedient for a rhino owner and more profitable to kill all his/her rhinos and cash in on the trade, rather than run the risk of yet more poaching that would increase with legal trade – i.e. a cash-in while the trade is allowed. I do not believe the poaching would be stopped through more money – it would be fuelled.

The fallacy of legal trade is that creating more legal supply would stem illegal supply – why and how? Legal trade would fuel demand in a massive market. The commodity is price inelastic.

 

We believe the issue is a simple supply and demand debate and we either manage the rhino crisis through decreasing the supply through enforcement, (that has largely failed), or increase the supply to exceed the demand, (pro-trade debate) that I believe will be disastrous, or alternately reduce the demand. I believe the latter has the greatest promise of success.

 

IN SUMMARY, THE OPTIONS ARE:

 

A: Increase Supply: I believe that to be fatally flawed in a species starting off a base of 20,000 in a global market of 3 billion + people, with increasing more affluence and consumptive behaviour.

Increases in rhino numbers by:

a. Live sales – no animals die, except as complications of relocations.

  1. Conservation range expansion.
  2. Tourism income
  3. Bred for hunting – There are major problems with this – see below
  4. Bred for rhino horn harvests

b. Trophy mounts and hunts – animals have to die.

c. Rhino horn trade – live or dead harvests.

d. Better anti-poaching efforts – recent efforts in Kruger has not succeeded.

 

(b + c): Our comments to this is that 25% of rhinos are currently in private hands in South Africa, i.e. 5000 of which one person, John Hume, owns almost 1000, (on a virtual feedlot). Of the other 4000 a good number are in conservation holdings – those that have no intention to trade or kill or chop their horns. So it would appear that the contribution these private owners, (that are agitating for hunting or horn trade), make to conservation is overstated as I believe that rhino’s raised in feedlots make minimal if not no contribution to conservation, just as is the case for zoos in general to conservation.

 

Furthermore, the act of trade opens the flood gates for yet further trade, (and grows the demand), and poaching will always be cheaper than production. This is a price inelastic product.

 

Please see the table above – it is blatantly clear that we stepped over the abyss in South Africa in 2008 – it was a perfect storm – through the years from the late 1960 SA has provided the avenue for trade and hunting. It escalated internationally from the 1970 seeing the massive decline of rhino all over the world by 1980! (And in most of that decade, trade was still happening, not least from SADF actions in Namibia and elsewhere. You cannot also disassociate the decolonisation of the area and mal-governance, human population growth and poverty from the equation.)

 

In South Africa there was a steady growth in numbers, not least the increase in private conservation areas, (MANY ARE NOT HUNTING FARMS), granted some increase was through hunting demand. Yet look what happens between 2008 – 2010 – the Ivory sale, SANPARKS and KZN Wildlife rhino sales and live overseas exports! What we do not know is the numbers of trophy hunts, (we only know of the rise of these to Vietnam). In 2014 the government admitted that between 2009 and 2014 they permitted about 250 legal rhino hunts!

We believe that SA was the prime mover to supply the Asian demand, (that like an addict just consumed what came its way), and did so through trade, and in doing so, a market was developed and established that became a monster that cannot be controlled. The suggestion that you can out-produce this demand is inconceivable and totally unrealistic to suggest you could secure the supply to save the species.

The suggestion that the ban caused the problem is not supported by the facts. In fact, SA is notorious for its non-compliance with CITES, (and being the point of weakness), and have been in the firing line many times, each time escaping with a stay of execution. Trade is alive and well in SA, (even during the ban), and you need to only look at the incomplete data compiled in haste in the table above, or read the newspapers of under-world elements and their willing SA professional hunter accomplices. We believe that the SA induced and fuelled the trade demand, (especially in the last 20 – 30 years, with a massive exponential increase in the last 10 years), that has created this monster that we now have. Doing more of this trade is not the answer – it will only give you more of the same.

 

Arguing too that the revenue from harvested horn will allow supply control through the resources generated by its sale is like feeding a heroine addict the drug and then using the revenue of its sales to reduce the supply. MADNESS.

 

Please take note of the Chinese trade of captive bred origin of tiger products. While this has been a controlled legal trade of captive, (outside of conservation), populations while wild origin animals are not permitted, the wild populations have continued to decrease due to both habitat loss and on-going poaching that benefits from the parallel trade in these products. In exactly the same way the financial incentives will not stem the tide of rhino poaching, but increase it, and you really are never going to outbreed the demand or the human greed.

 

The proposal to limit the illegal supply in letting private owner,s (and the entities that own rhinos/horns), have the resources through trade to destroy the competitive illegal trade: This we believe this not realistic as poaching will always be cheaper than production and as such we do not believe this will have an impact. We believe this will create a perverse incentive to increase poaching as a greater, ready market will develop and no amount of enforcement will stop a poor and destitute poacher scrambling for their crumbs in the trade equation. Remember the person doing the killing gets a few thousand Rand of the end value of up to R3m of the horn on the market. This attempt to stem the supply of poached horn will not be affected by legal trade. Look at what happened with the ivory sales aftermath from 2008.

 

It is common cause that anti-poaching efforts need to be intensified.

 

We have heard of others propose controlled supply mechanisms through central selling operations etc. We believe this to be naive and flawed as the diamond experience demonstrated.

 

B: Decrease demand – decreasing the demand side: We believe this is the best option for the species.

 

Regulating trade through governmental compliance mechanisms – We think that most commentators believe that is will not come into effect. The reason for this is that the people who care about the species are different to those consuming the species, and governments are universally unable to enforce compliance.

 

Education to reduce the demand is essential but an enormous task. However you cannot have the development of a legal trade market and this. This is our oft quoted contradiction –support for the market development on the one hand and destruction on the other. We believe adults are impossible to educate, (usually)!

 

We believe that our best hope for the species is to try to destroy the demand by destroying the consumptive value of rhino horn.

We suggest a clear strategy: All horn stockpiles needs to be nationalised and poisoned and then sold onto the market with a health warning. This will destroy demand overnight. People are selfish and act in self interest. No-one drinks GARLON unless suicidal!

 

Thus the best option is to destroy demand through the destruction of the desirability of the product. Education will help but make negligible impact. Destroy the desirability of the horn by poisoning all horn and dumping it on the market with a trade warning, after nationalising all stockpiles and any horn. That will stop the demand in its tracks and overnight as poisoned and non-poisoned horn would be indistinguishable.

 

"CITES started as conservation organization regulating trade but it's turned into a trade organization regulating conservation".

 

The time is now for resolute action on this issue.

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@@Landmark Foundation - thanks for your overview and welcome to Safaritalk.

 

One thing that strikes me whenever discussing the legal trade issue is that it opinions seem to be very South Africa-centric. What is the opinion of other range state countries, (conservation orgs, wildlife managers, governments), not just in Africa?

 

What of the question of rhinos being auctioned abroad, destination China for breeding centres: surely not a conservation aim, but a sustainable source of horn? So, as much as the efforts to educate are having inroads, have not such auctions and exports already ingrained the idea that horn is beneficial? (Over and above any TCM tradition - and surely those involved with said farms will have anti education propaganda ready to put out?) And these farms are supplying an in country trade? (Perhaps at inflated prices.) So people are seeking an alternative. And, as per my post above, will they not stop at killing rhinos in Africa to stop all "competition"? (this was a point put to me by more than one person.) Do such exports continue to happen? If so, then surely that is counter productive to any educational message, (at some cost), that is being put forward by orgs such as Wild Aid? I.e. - Don't buy or consume rhino horn products, (when the buying stops the killing can too), and yet at the same time white rhinos are still being exported from SA to China, and for what purpose other than the sustainable trade in horn?

 

I have so many questions, no answers. For that I'm sorry.

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Posted (edited)

Landmark Foundation - this idea of poisoning legalized horn makes a lot of sense as a way to drastically and rapidly reduce demand. I think this will quickly separate the people who are actually trying to save the rhino from those trying to make big bucks from the rhino. If all the wildlife range states were to do this not only for rhino horn, but for the consumable parts & organs from other wildlife, this could have an impact on demand for all sorts of wildlife products such as pangolin scales and tiger bones. Very out of the box thinking - please keep posting and let us know how those who support your position can help.

 

With some thought, I bet we could devise a similar strategy for ivory as well.

Edited by Sangeeta
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@@Landmark Foundation - thanks for your overview and welcome to Safaritalk.

 

One thing that strikes me whenever discussing the legal trade issue is that it opinions seem to be very South Africa-centric. What is the opinion of other range state countries, (conservation orgs, wildlife managers, governments), not just in Africa?

 

 

I have so many questions, no answers. For that I'm sorry.

I wouldn't be sorry, many if us are in the same boat and the ones who are adamant that they have the answers often keep blinkers on to alternatives.

 

As far as the South African centric nature of the debate, one well known member here has been unequivocal in his opinion that SAs perceived success with rhino conservation and the numbers they have, should mean that they have the biggest say. Many of us would disagree with this assertion. With respect.

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Has there been any rebuttle to the Nadal paper by other economists such as 't Sas-Rolfes?

 

Here a two previous papers of his examining the trade issue.

 

Article analysing the market factors driving the recent rhino poaching crisis. (2012)

 

 

I am afraid 't Sas-Rolfes has been seriously discredited in a number of papers and forums - his arguments are thought to be brutally simplistic and based on assumptions that do not stand up to serious review.

 

Have a look at this article by Don Pinnock http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/science/2014/06/13/high-level-report-calls-sa-wildlife-trade-policy-reckless

 

I think it is significant and interesting that South Africa is the only country pro-trade. They took a similar stance on ivory and that has been proved to have been disastrous for elephants.

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@@Landmark Foundation - thanks for your overview and welcome to Safaritalk.

 

One thing that strikes me whenever discussing the legal trade issue is that it opinions seem to be very South Africa-centric. What is the opinion of other range state countries, (conservation orgs, wildlife managers, governments), not just in Africa?

 

What of the question of rhinos being auctioned abroad, destination China for breeding centres: surely not a conservation aim, but a sustainable source of horn? So, as much as the efforts to educate are having inroads, have not such auctions and exports already ingrained the idea that horn is beneficial? (Over and above any TCM tradition - and surely those involved with said farms will have anti education propaganda ready to put out?) And these farms are supplying an in country trade? (Perhaps at inflated prices.) So people are seeking an alternative. And, as per my post above, will they not stop at killing rhinos in Africa to stop all "competition"? (this was a point put to me by more than one person.) Do such exports continue to happen? If so, then surely that is counter productive to any educational message, (at some cost), that is being put forward by orgs such as Wild Aid? I.e. - Don't buy or consume rhino horn products, (when the buying stops the killing can too), and yet at the same time white rhinos are still being exported from SA to China, and for what purpose other than the sustainable trade in horn?

 

I have so many questions, no answers. For that I'm sorry.

All other range states are anti-trade

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The problem is that most of those in conservation are schizoid in their approach. They want to stop the threat to rhino, but want to trade their way out of it. How can you benefit from a market (selling into it) and wanting to educate against the demand. It is simply bizarre that people do not get this utterly conflicting situations.

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The problem is that most of those in conservation are schizoid in their approach. They want to stop the threat to rhino, but want to trade their way out of it. How can you benefit from a market (selling into it) and wanting to educate against the demand. It is simply bizarre that people do not get this utterly conflicting situations.

@@Landmark Foundation this is the biggest issue with legalising trade and you have hit the nail on the head. To make matters worse, people want to not just trade into any market - but a market (China) that is notoriously known for circumventing and flouting CITES many many times for it's own commercial purpose - and every time in the guise of conservation.

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How do you make rhino horn valueless?

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Simply continue to poison it, and continue warning that it's been poisoned. I feel no remorse for people using any part of an endangered species.

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And what about the horn being sustainably harvested, produced and marketed in China? Also there has been debate recently on whether poisoning the horn actually works.

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@@Game Warden how do you know its "sustainable" harvest? If the rhinos cant even survive in that rain forest environment ? ( which is more than likely)

 

How many years of proof should we have before we call something sustainable? I am just a little skeptical of using these adjectives because then it just passes from one person to another and the meaning is never pondered upon.

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When I say sustainable I mean that the rhino has not been killed: so I will continue to use sustainable when talking about harvesting rhino horn without killing the "donor" animal. And in respect of my comments relating to China, I'm talking about the rhinos that have been exported from SA to China for the sole purpose of farming for their horns. Tom Milliken, from the NGO Traffic talks about it in this interview, and in Time, (www.time.com), in an article on the rhino question, is the following:

 

But shortly after Liu's speech in Qatar, a Chinese research paper surfaced, titled "Proposal for Protection of the Rhinoceros and the Sustainable Use of Rhinoceros Horn." The article, originally published in 2008, referred to a rhino project on China's southern Hainan Island, where "initial progress achieved in research to extract rhinoceros horn from live rhinoceroses merits the attention and support of relevant institutions." The co-author of the report? Senior traditional-medicine researcher Jia, who TIME has learned is part of a secretive, multimillion-dollar Chinese effort to cultivate rhinos for their horn.

 

To read the full article click here.

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