egilio

Vicuna in trouble

12 posts in this topic

Even though this is not about an African species, I do think it's at it's place in the Africa forum.

One example pro-rhino traders often use is the one of the recovery of the vicuna because of the allowance in the trade of it's wool.

 

But things might be backfiring for the vicuna, and there are some problems which are brushed aside by pro rhino traders in their argumentation, or even assumed to be completely opposite.

 

News item from mongabay

 

Here are a few things which caught my eye:

 

 

For starters, as soon as limited legal trade in vicuña wool was established, it opened the door for laundering of illegal counterparts.

 

Pro rhino traders often brush this aside, they claim opening legal trade will reduce illegal trade greatly. Mind you, vicunas were rare because of poaching, but opening legal trade apparently increased the options of poachers to market their illegal commodity.

 

 

 

Identifying illegal vicuña wool is challenging for customs officials in South America and abroad, as it can easily be intermixed with legally harvested fiber and traceability schemes are lax.

 

This seems to be the crux of that, it's probably not too hard to document legal rhino properly if it's still in the shape of a horn, but once it's ground down to powder, legal and illegal horn is easily mixed and hard to trace.

 

I recently attended a talk by a South African professor who was pro rhino horn trade. He claimed that the price of legal rhino horn would be lower than illegal rhino. He didn't make clear in his talk why this would be. I asked him and he gave me an answer which was not an answer to my question, so I asked him again, and again he evaded my question. He couldn't make clear why this would be. The article about the vicuna show the opposite, illegal vicuna wool is half the price of legal wool! And at a price of $250 for 1 kg, a big incentive for poachers! You can imagine the incentive if the price is >$25,000 a kg!

 

 

 

2.2 pounds (1 kilo) of illegally harvested vicuña fiber sells for $250 — half the price of legally shorn wool — but as Menghi points out, “I can assure you that $250 is a lot of money for these people.”
3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thats 1000 Vicuna poached a year - it sounds quite bad, but is still less than the number of rhino poached. Also remember that there are 20 000 rhino and 350 000 vicuna, so its still relatively a small percentage that are being poached.

 

I wonder how many vicuna there would be if they did not allow for sustainable harvesting?

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The numbers are different, the value is vastly different, but also the ownership of the animals is different. They're not privately owned, communities are allowed to harvest wool non-lethally. But because it's communities who profit and not private individuals it reduces the drive to poach on a wider basis.

 

Pro trade people came up with the vicuna as a good example of how trade can help a species, but it's not all sunshine, and I think the problems rearing their heads in the vicuna case need to be carefully considered in the rhino case.

How do you avoid mixing up of legal and illegal horn when corruption is involved?

Does legal trade reduce the incentive for poaching enough trough a combination of price reduction and increased protection (as a result of increased incentive, because of increased rewards, to protect? Does that protection extend to wild rhinos? Will legal horn be cheaper or more expensive than illegal horn?

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1000 vicuna poached as a percentage of a population of 350,000???

Less than 0.3%

 

Vicuna farming undoubtedly provides a livlihood for a lot of people and whilst I don't condone poaching I think that the numbers are pretty much insignificant and that they are being used completely out of context to support a 'no legal trade' argument.

 

Not relevant at all

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Insignificant but rising because of the legal trade...And numbers started to increase way before trade was being allowed, but pro-trade people used the argument that they've risen because of the trade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry, but this whole argument is fatuous.

In the USA in the 1800's and 1900's cattle ranchers had a problem with rustlers - criminals who would raid their herds and steal cattle -

The ranchers took steps to fight the rustlers and dealt with those they caught very harshly. However the incentive to steal cattle remained and rustling continued.

At no stage did anyone suggest that the way to put an end to rustling was to end the legal trade in beef.

 

There are many instances where an illegal trade rides on the back of a legal trade, yet to suggest that the solution is to stop the legal trade is simply absurd.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Sorry @@Sackrider but you and @@Bugs have missed the point entirely; who here either in this thread or the To Trade or Not to Trade thread has suggested that the vicuña fibre trade should be stopped?

 

I certainly haven’t and I’m not aware that anyone else has either; this isn’t about whether legalising trade in vicuña fibre was the right thing to do it is about the undeniable problems with the trade that have resulted from how it was set up. Those in favour of legalising trade in rhino horn need to learn from the mistakes that were made when trade in vicuña fibre was started, the trade has been a good thing but there are serious problems with it which are now having to be adressed.

 

To repeat what I said in the other thread it was rigorous protection by the Peruvian government that increased their vicuña population from an all time low of 7,500 in 1968 to 66,599 in 1994 not trade because the trade was only legalised in 94. In Peru as I said all vicuñas belong to the state which then grants local communities permission to manage the vicuñas on their land and profit from the sale of the fibre, one of the stated aims of legalising the trade and reviving the practice of shearing wild vicuñas was to lift Andean peasant communites out of poverty it has not done this. Vicuña fibre does bring in an income but it does not provide people with a decent livelihood, the big profits are being made by fashion houses and retailers in other parts of the world not by Andean people.

 

2.2 pounds (1 kilo) of illegally harvested vicuña fiber sells for $250 — half the price of legally shorn wool — but as Menghi points out, “I can assure you that $250 is a lot of money for these people.

 

 

What has to born in mind with regard to this comment that @@egilio quoted before is that while the illegal price is only half the legal price the profits from poaching are only shared between a small gang of people, when vicuñas are rounded up during a traditional Chaccu this involves the whole community a huge number of people and the profits go to the whole community. Poaching is on the rise because it is a profitable business.

 

Further quotes from the same article that @@egilio

 

For starters, as soon as limited legal trade in vicuña wool was established, it opened the door for laundering of illegal counterparts. As poaching ramped up, some communities gave up on sustainable shearing after receiving threats from illegal hunters. Others, including quinoa farmers in Bolivia, view vicuñas as a pest and menace to their crops, and turn a blind eye to the killings.

 

To compound these problems, those who do stick to sustainable methods are not fully rewarded for their efforts. Communities working directly with vicuñas, most of which are extremely poor, currently receive little profit for all their effort — “the smallest piece of the pie,” says Daniel Elias Maydana, a technical advisor for the National Association of Vicuña Fiber Producers who works in Bolivia and northern Argentina. “The money obtained from managing vicuñas is important, but it’s certainly not sufficient to lift families out of poverty.”

 

In 2014, for example, Peru exported 10 tons of vicuña fiber to Italy, for which all Peruvian communities combined received a grand total of $250,000. “That is ridiculously small,” Bonacic says. A single coat, using just two kilos (4.4 pounds) of wool, can cost $50,000, he says, meaning that the fashion industry’s revenue from just five garments can equal the entire earnings that the whole of Peru’s vicuña-producing communities sees in a year.

 

Trying to pretend that there are not major issues with this trade and who is profiting from it and who isn't and that it has led to serious poaching problems is simply dishonest, that is not an argument for banning the trade it is an argument for correcting the mistakes that were made when the trade started, so that amongst other things the benefits go to the right people and selling black market fibre is not as easy as it evidently is.

 

1000 vicuna poached as a percentage of a population of 350,000???

Less than 0.3%

 

Yes if you compare those figures to current rates of poaching in SA, however do you have a crystal ball can you predict the future? I can’t but I can go back in time to let’s say 2003 for example.

 

22 rhinos poached out of a population of 11,280???

 

That's only 0.18%

 

If my maths is correct 0.18% is lower than 0.3%, 11,280 was the total population of rhinos in South Africa in 2003 and 22 is the total number that were poached that year I doubt any conservationists, rhino owners or anyone else in South Africa would have predicted in 2003 what the rate of poaching would be just 10 years later in South Africa in 2013 1,004 rhinos were poached, 1215 were poached last year. I don’t what the figure will be at the end of this year.

 

Vicuña poaching is on the rise, do I think it will get as bad as rhino poaching no I don’t however it may reach the point where small isolated populations are in danger of being extirpated. In the over all scheme of things this doesn’t necessarily matter because there are only 2 recognised subspecies of vicuña and populations of both are as I understand it healthy, the loss of some small populations may be undesirable but if it doesn’t endanger the overall population of each subspecies it is not a problem.

 

The point in the case of rhinos is that the overall population in South Africa might go up if the trade ban is lifted however small vulnerable populations elsewhere may be put at greater risk and these rhinos are entirely different species or subspecies, their loss really does matter. If the international ban on the trade in rhino horn is to be lifted then whatever system is put in place to trade in horn has include measures to ensure that rhinos outside of South Africa are not put at greater risk.

 

Pro-traders trumpet the fact that South Africa has 75% of the world’s rhinos but excluding any animals that may be in zoos South Africa has precisely 0% of the world’s greater one-horned rhinos for example.

 

“The program started quite well, but for the past 15 years we’ve discovered a series of fundamental problems,” says Cristian Bonacic, currently a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and permanently based at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile”.

 

 

If the international trade ban on rhino horn is to be lifted it there must not be any fundamental problems they have to get the strategy right because if they don’t it could be a disaster for greater one-horned rhinos in India and Nepal for example. I am not arguing that it will be I don’t know for certain what may or may not happen to these rhinos but this is a legitimate concern that has not been adressed by supporters of a legal trade in rhino horn.

 

So please let’s have no more comments about how many vicuñas would there be without the trade, or suggestion's that this fatuous or irrelevant it is not, I can’t speak for everyone here but I’m pretty sure no one on this site is arguing for a ban on the trade in vicuña fibre.

Edited by inyathi
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

The number of 1000 is clearly an under-estimation.

Vicuña poaching is relevant for small populations such as the Chilean one, which is on the decrease for many reasons.

It is not clear what is leading this trend, some scientists state the rarity of water, rainfalls and food, others suggest there might be any effect because of el Niño or climate change, well I guess no one really knows today, and resources are very limited in Chile for conservation and biology. Thus I am afraid we will never get any conclusion.

In this case, hunting is a contributing factor to this negative trend and acts as an accelerator.

 

Here is one link of interest:

http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/macs/Publications/lakerAMApresentation.pdf

Edited by jeremie
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@inyathi I am sure that those proposing a legal trade in rhino horn are aware of how much in the spotlight they are and that they will only get one chance to make it work.

It is a real shame that those who are against the trade cannot at least accept that the pro-trade people are as anxious to save the rhino as the anti-trade people and that much more progress could be made if there was less hostility between the 2 sides.

We all want the same thing - to save the rhino. Something that organisations like "Save the Rhino" are failing miserably to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Sackrider said (fine name by the way)

"We all want the same thing - to save the rhino. Something that organisations like "Save the Rhino" are failing miserably to do."

which is where I sob brokenly into my tea. to blame "Sabve the Rhino" for rhino decline is as logical as blaming Oxfam for world poverty and malnutrician, or Save the Children for child cruelty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Towlersonsafari

I can thank my parents and their love of American frontier art for the name.

They named me after Frederick Sackrider Remington.

They called me Freddy but my friends decided to call me 'Sack'.

 

I am in no way blaming Save the Rhino for the crisis.

What I am saying is that they - along with everyone else - have failed to stem the decline and that surely it is time for anyone who cares about the future of the Rhino to be open minded enough to consider alternatives to the policies that have failed up to now.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you @@Sackrider I've just googled the painter he certainly led an interesting life!

I am all for new solutions and ideas but they have to be backed by sound research and in the case of trade it is very helpful to look at where trade exists hence this very thread personally I don't find the vicuña experience much support for rhino trade but now we start to go round in circles again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.