Michael Lorentz

To trade or not to trade..

292 posts in this topic

I would like to draw your attention to this paper:

 

http://conservationaction.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Management-strategies-to-curb-rhino-poaching.pdf

It makes the following statements, which sum up the total lack of empirical data in the pro-trade argument.

"Being mindful that our results are dependent upon subjective assessments and understanding, as well as the persuasive powers of participants, the assessment is only indicative…..” How can a scientific paper be based on this ?

And despite: "There was uncertainty around the reduction in the price of horn possibly stimulating further demand from a growing, wealthier Asian middle class, thus maintaining demand and poaching incentive “, they conclude that unrestricted trade is the solution!

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Let's face it, to realistically have a trade in rhino horn there would need to be a minimum of 100,000 rhinos available just to sustain the trade in horn. That wouldn't include all the rhinos available for tourists to see, and unfortunately hunters will never give up on the opportunity to put a rhino head on their walls.

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Not neccessarily @@optig - what about the rhinos which have already been dehorned, not just in SA but in Kenya, for instance at Lewa.

 

Again, how do we reduce the value of rhino horn to zero? The proponents of legal trade would never want to see the value drop below a price which would not see a ROI. So that means, as Colin Bell said, the cost of a poached rhino is a rifle, a couple of bullets and a couple of guys in a team. (Which will always be cheaper than the current cost of a kilo of horn.) - more or less, not an exact quote: I've asked him to come aboard and provide a resume of our discussion.

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@@Game Warden does Lewa dehorn now? I've never seen dehorned rhinos there but my last visit was 2011. Is it something they are doing to all their rhinos or just a select number?

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Obviously, if we add in those that have been already dehorned, then we would need more than 100,000s rhino to sustain a trade in rhino horn. Sad but true, it's obvious that dehorning doesn't seem to be a solution because the poachers will simply kill the dehorned rhinos.

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How do you make rhino horn valueless?

 

I don't think this is the right question. As with almost all things in life, there will always be a perceived value somewhere, now that there is a history of rhino horn being used in traditional medicine. Of more use would be to ask the question,

"How can the value of rhino horn be reduced to such a level that it no longer poses a risk to wild populations?".

 

This acknowledges that there will be some continuing market in rhino horn for the foreseeable future and lessons the stress of realising the impossibility of cutting the demand altogether.

 

So what methods could be used to lessen the value of rhino horn?

 

I think that to answer this in any sensible way, we need to understand why the demand for rhino horn is growing and there are plenty of excellent articles available which go into the many aspects of this. Some are linked to here on Safaritalk. It is fairly obvious that Traditional Medicine is one, and of course the growing demand surrounding the use of rhino horn as a status symbol. It wasn't so long ago that we were also blaming the Yemeni demand for rhino horn although that demand seems to have died somewhat.

 

Does poisoning rhino horn lessen demand? I haven't seen any evidence yet that this is the case and I wonder if it is possible that it would do anything significant. Think it through. There would need to be a huge marketing awareness of the danger of rhino horn being poisoned targetting the market in the Far East. If we are able to penetrate the market to make this work, then we should be able to penetrate it with other anti poaching messages and that is obviously not the case yet. If a few people die from injesting poisoned horn who would know? They are unlikely to be attending a hospital with Western medicine who may pick up on the poison, they may have been sick anyway so the community would put it down to the illness and the horn powder being taken too late, or it not being strong enough.

 

If it was only Traditional Medicine that was causing the demand, I think that it would be much easier to fight. The campaigns being carried out in China would appear to be taking some degree of hold, at least if you look at some of the information coming out of mainland China. There are some interesting campaigns being fought there by a variety of groups using some novel methods. All slow work but it can't be an overnight thing disseminating information in such a vast population.

 

I see the biggest problem being the younger, wealthier populations of China, Vietnam etc who use rhino horn as a status symbol. The more expensive it gets, the more it serves its purpose. If farmed horn becomes a cheap option, they will want wild horn and will be prepared to pay whatever the price is. Status and wealth. This is the market that will be the hardest to subdue. This is the market that I don't see farmed, traded horn reducing.

 

Managing a certain level of demand will be a challenge which probably won't go in my lifetime but it has to be a multiple pronged attack on the different demands; the cartels driving the poaching and then the security, or lack thereof, and corruption in the home states.

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It's all terribly depressing. It's unfortunate that even a shoot to kill policy it's enough.

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does Lewa dehorn now?

 

 

Sorry, last night wanted to edit my answer but the laptop gave up working. Lewa, Ol Pejeta etc for instance in Kenya, some of the places in SA and elsewhere, Kragga Kamma - shows that tourists are going to reserves where rhino de horning takes place.

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How do you make rhino horn valueless?

You can't.

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One thing that strikes me time and again and most especially with the OSCAP conference is the influence from foreign NGO's and the tendency for those NGO's and the Activists that trail along is that they are fundamentally against sustainable and consumptive use from the get-go. Many are simply Animal Rights groups who are jumping on the bandwagon, as pictures of dead rhinos draws much attention and thus donor funds pour in. Although I welcome opinion, one must remember that these people made up their minds that they are against trade first because of ideological reasons, and then began to reason why. You say follow the money - then the money seems to lead down the path of these NGO's who have been cash in at the rhinos demise.

 

To be perfectly honest the credibility of these organisations opinions has to be questioned, as they are fundamentally not Conservation organisations, and they have no place getting involved in conservation policy.

 

Remember it was the principle of sustainable use that was the reason for the Rhinos recovery, and along with that the extension of more land for conservation in South Africa. I may add that some of these organisations got involved in Kenyas wildlife legislation, and we know what happened there.

 

People who should be trusted and who deserve credit are veterans in the wildlife industry. People like Ian Player, Dave Cook, Michael Eustace, Clive Walker, John Hanks, Michael Sas-Rolfes, Brian Child, and intellectuals within SAN Parks advisors to the South African Government etc. These are people with no agenda other than to what is the best way to save the rhino. Why do we not give their opinions credit?

 

My vote goes to the people with the most experience, who don't have preconceived ideas and fundamental ideologies prohibiting them from reasoning rationally. In some ways, the Animal Rights NGO's are being irresponsible with their propaganda, and could not be doing the rhinos a favour. I can only hope that the South African government and CITES in turn favour academic input rather than Animal Rights rhetoric and propaganda.

 

One side note - Poisoning horn does not work. I have known for some time, but it is clear the poison doesn't penetrate, and it amounts to another con.

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dikdik, you seem to go down this rather arrogant view of the "committee", it being defined as those of similar view that supports the hunting and trade debate (that seems to have hijacked governance institutions, and the money!) being the only one with a valid opinion. You are simply wrong and misrepresent the facts. When Player last worked with rhinos on the ground the world was populated with less than half the number of people, and flying abroad was rare and not accessible.

 

Kenyan elephant populations in 1989 - 20 000. Now, after 25 years of ivory trade ban - 30 000 (50% growth). Whales almost universally extinct in the late 1970s, today healthy populations.

 

SA rhino numbers increased 1980 - 3200, today 20 000.

 

What do all these factors have in common. In the early 1980 commercial whale hunting stopped. In 1977 rhino horn trade stopped. In 1989 elephant ivory sales stopped. Thus it flies in the face of your assertion of the role of hunters.

 

Further too: of the 20 000 rhino about 15 000 in Kruger and KZN parks, half of the remainder in other state parks. Thus less than 10% is in the hands of hunters - what, on the facts, have they realistically contributed to rhino conservation other than fuel the trade and trade routes.

 

There is no place for the cult of permonality in this debate.

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Posted (edited)

Post deleted by myself. I will try and be more polite.

Edited by dikdik

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Posted (edited)

The rhino conservation issue truly depresses me… because I don't see a simple solution. (I believe demand reduction is one solution, but it is not being done with vigor in Vietnam, as efforts always seem to hit a ceiling as it is not getting any political support there.)

 

While I embrace the fact that rhino horn can be sustainably harvested without endangering the animal (a no-brainer pro-trade point it seems), I am bothered by the irony of legalizing a product with dubious medicinal value (as mentioned on this thread). In any case, a legal market can only materialize if the potential buying nations can prove to CITES that they are capable of regulating, and neither Vietnam nor China has done much in that regard (status quo is too profitable for those involved in the trade).

 

I read with interest the paper by Nadal and Aguayo posted on the first entry of this thread and was disappointed. The paper invents the phrase, "the canonical pro-trade argument". Yet, the paper, ironically, is canonically anti-trade. I am sure some people are canonically pro-trade, but some of the pro-trade names mentioned in the paper I know personally… and I can tell you that they are reluctantly pro-trade, not canonically pro-trade. They are as "bunny hugger-ish" as anybody. They are simply looking for a practical solution to this crisis.

 

Statements such as -- there are more elephants now in Kenya than before the ivory ban -- are too simple and canonical. One could easily say, in counter argument, that wildlife numbers in Kenya have plummeted since the hunting ban of 1977. And yes, that would be canonical too.

 

Surely, if rhino horn were indeed a cancer cure, everyone would agree to farm rhino, no? We need to move away from the extreme canonical, ideological, even religious stance on utilization and think about what is excessively consumptive (tiger bone?), necessarily consumptive (tuna?), and possibly non-consumptive (rhino horn?) and have a dialogue from there… and not put everything into extreme polemic categories.

Edited by Safaridude
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Thanks @@Safaridude. As always your posts are measured and well balanced.

 

I guess that you would have to put me under that same category as reluctantly pro-trade as well.

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There you go again dikdik! You are absolutely arrogant and obnoxious!

 

Indeed we are against psycho-pathological exploitation of wildlife, and trade debate is rooted in that "ideology" (if you want to bandy that word around).

 

Do not come with this notion that hunting is a conservation action. It is a commercial exploitation of a psycho-pathology where the enterprise sells the thrill to kill, wherein the process wildlife is hunted - to hang on walls and trade horn to enlarge penises amoungst others. Why would you want that threat to wildlife allowed, i.e. both the fallacious notion of enlarging penises/hangover cures/curing cancer or boosting egos (feeding the fallacy) which fuels the demand while fueling the supply.

 

I find it astonishing that the foolhardiness of promoting trade to decrease demand's illogical stance is not self-evident!

 

I could also care less of personality cults, especially when those are based on hidden agendas!

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We don't need to name call in a discussion: there's plenty of that in social media, on ST I expect discussions to be well mannered - it does not imply we have to agree with one another's viewpoints of course but antagonistic posts only detract from the debate.

 

Let's leave talk of hunting out of the discussion as it only dilutes what is the focus of the issue, whether trade in rhino horn should be legalised.

 

Now, should we dismiss the experience and expertise of wildlife managers and conservationists because their work was conducted a number of years back?

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Offside penalty!

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We don't need to name call in a discussion: there's plenty of that in social media, on ST I expect discussions to be well mannered - it does not imply we have to agree with one another's viewpoints of course but antagonistic posts only detract from the debate.

 

 

Well said @@Game Warden

 

 

Let's leave talk of hunting out of the discussion as it only dilutes what is the focus of the issue, whether trade in rhino horn should be legalised.

 

 

 

Agrred again. These are two entirely different matters and people can have different views. For instance, I am not in favour of rhino horn trade (even if I have not investigated the issue as deeply as I should), whilst I believe that - in certain circumstances and provided it is well managed - trophy hunting can definitely have conservation value (I will not repeat my positions on the why and the when, which should be known to many and would be entirely off topic here).

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you are not helping the cause of your NGO and to some extent to other NGO that are doing a great job fighting against a potential trade in rhino horn by reacting that way.

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Gosh, it always surprises me when people like dikdik can cast aspersions but when you counter it there are howls of protest. Our statements stand 100%. Why the silence on dikdik comments - clearly you endorse them.

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Firstly, recall that I am not pro-trade. I am not anti-trade either. What I am is tortured.

 

Putting the hunting issue aside and focusing just on rhino... I don't see why the idea of farming rhino (and not endangering them) to address a crisis is in any way close to "psycho-pathology".

 

Even on Landmark Foundation's website, it is clear that the organization embraces ecotourism as a way of giving value to the land and conservation of it. Is that exploitation as well? The mere farming of rhino to address a crisis, or the mere idea of it, I see it as no different, really. But let's remember again, I am not pro-trade.

 

I believe Dik-dik has the right to be heard without being pilloried.

 

I think the difference is essentially this: Dik-dik is essentially saying that the other side doesn't get it. You are essentially saying the other side is a bunch of psychopaths.

 

Let's keep it onside.

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I would actually like to hear a lot more about the possibility or impossibility of poisoning horn, if both sides would not mind telling us more about that. I jumped on the idea of legalizing poisoned horn because it truly sounds like a clever idea. It may be, as twaffle says, that traditional medicine is only a small part of the consumers - but surely even the status seekers of Vietnam and China would hesitate to snort poison?

 

Does Landmark's horn poisoning proposal have any basis in research? And Dikdik, can you please point us to any research that shows that this is not feasible? Thanks for both your input.

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Posted (edited)

Whilst I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever with anyone involved in the trade of rhino horn, and if poisoning a few end users is what it takes to save the rhino, I would have no problem with this. However, it is my distinct feeling (ie guess!) that the obstacles - legal, logistical and ethical - which would have to be overcome to implement an effective programme to poison rhino horn would be enormous.

 

This is the problem with fighting on the side of 'right' - you have to do everything by the book.

Edited by Whyone?

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Posted (edited)

@@Whyone? - I think Landmark was proposing that there be an explicit warning on the horn - saying that it contains poison. I would think that might take care of the ethical problems at least. Legal problems, I don't know - you may have a point there.

 

@@Landmark Foundation - dikdik is a long-standing and well respected member of this community. I disagree with him on rhino horn trading and on other issues such as hunting as well, but many of us here know him personally and we know that he cares as much about these issues as any of the rest of us. It doesn't help the cause to leap to conclusions about members - especially based on what we have not said.

Edited by Sangeeta
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- especially based on what we have not said.

 

A very important point.

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