Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
COSMIC RHINO

major reports of illegal wildlife trade eles, rhinos etc

319 posts in this topic

i look forward with interest to your report on your observations, but most importantly, have a spendid time @@douglaswise its a beautiful part of the world

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

But inspite of what @@Bugs maintains wildlife trade is poorly regulated worldwide and illegal trade is used as a cover by the corrupt to hide illegal trade.

i think we can agree that for any conservation method to work local folk have to be involved and have to benefit

 

Surely, if you are correct in your assumption that wildlife trade is poorly regulated, then the solution should be to regulate it better, as opposed to banning it outright and simply giving the criminals a monopoly.

 

Your next line is essential - its something we have to work towards. I have just returned from a trip to Bangweulu Swamps in Northern Zambia, and was fortunate enough to talk to the fisheries researcher who works for African Parks.

 

Anyone who has knows Zambia should know that poaching is considered a way of life, and the consequences are devastating. Ap have done a great job in teaching the community about sustainable use, although there is still lots to do. The swamps are a enormous resource, and the community depends on that resource for survival. The black Lechwe stir the water and deposit their manure in the water that feeds the micro organisms and small fish and then bigger fish depend on that. Obviously people have no problem when fish are harvested sustainably, but seem to be troubled should black lechwe be harvested sustainably. Before I draw any criticism for the great work AP is doing, I wont say anymore. However - if you are looking for a worthy cause where your money is well used - you couldn't spend it better than on African Parks projects.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Towlersonsafari:

 

Thanks for your good wishes. If I learn anything of substance, I'll report back.

 

@Bugs:

 

I was thinking about the problem of surplus male rhinos under a no trade scenario. Has anyone looked into the feasibility of superovulation, embryo sexing and embryo transfer? Even with trade, it might be useful for speeding the rate of population growth.

 

Did you receive the personal message I sent you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@douglaswise - Yes I got your PM, but replied via email on the 11th .. Maybe its gone to trash..

 

I don't think there has been that degree of manipulation in rhinos yet. From what I understand is that rhinos breed well when they are healthy and free. (and with fewer males). Hume gets unbelievable reproductive rates, because his rhino think they are absolutely free, and will mate quickly after calving.

 

I know - from talking to Dave Cook who took part in the export of a number of rhino to zoos, that their reproduction was very poor in zoo like conditions. He told me that he visited a zoo once that had bought rhino from Natal Parks Board and said he could recognise the rhino. He said it looked more like a hippo. From the numbers he gave me on the rhinos exported, it was interesting to note that twice as many rhino had been exported than what had been sent to Kruger park. Kruger park (from having rhino extinct) has since become the biggest population of white rhino on earth. If the zoo transfer had been equally successful - there would be twice the number of rhinos in zoos around the world. Of course - today, zoos are completely different.

 

There is an interesting thing on cloning the northern white rhino here https://carteblanche.dstv.com/update-cloning-extinction/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We can certainly agree that African Parks do a great job and I have just read an article on the Bangweulu swamps in the BBC Wildlife magazine. @@Bugs in fact they seem to be model operators working with local folk carrying out research and using that research to inform their actions.evidence based conservation the only way to go

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I was intending to add a much longer post giving my thoughts on the rhino film however I thought I would add the following first before I do that.

 

@@Bugs

@@douglaswise

 

 

Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic has the record for breeding rhinos in captivity in Europe and held one of the only two captive populations of northern whites that were captured from the wild in Shambe NP in South Sudan in 1973 and they are the only zoo to have successfully bred these rhinos. However they only bred once, after that they tried absolutely everything to get them to breed, certainly the vets involved with these rhinos have experimented with IVF on southern whites to try and master the technique but so far without success. Eventually when it appeared that the rhinos were not going to breed they agreed to send them to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where it was hoped that being back in their natural habitat albeit still captive would stimulate them to breed. Once there they moved some of their southern whites into an area adjacent to the northern whites so that they would know that there were other rhinos around, this might stimulate their territorial and mating behaviour. However although they did mate no pregnancy resulted and now natural breeding is no longer possible.

 

It is known that one of the major issues facing the Asian two-horned or Sumatran species is that when a female reaches breeding age she needs to hook up with a male and mate, otherwise if she doesn't and too much time passes she may develop a uterine cyst rendering her unable to conceive. This is a real problem because the populations are so small and fragmented due to habitat destruction and poaching that young female rhinos may never find a mate and when they do it may already be too late. This is why the Sumatran is considered the most endangered of all the rhino species even though there are I think still believed to be more of them than there are of the Javan or Lesser one-horned species, although there are very few of the latter species they are living together in the same park Udjong –Kulon in Indonesia. Sumatran rhinos have been bred successfully in captivity once in the US and at the breeding facility in Way Kambas NP in Sumatra however there are precious few of them, the calve born at Cincinnati Zoo (I think) was sent to Way Kambas. I think conservationists are really sure whether catching more wild rhinos when they find them, is a good strategy or not, it makes sense to rescue animals that have become isolated as a result of habitat loss but there is a danger the animals could be killed during capture as has happened in Borneo and there’s no guarantee that they will be fertile.

 

It’s likely that a similar fertility issue prevented the last northern whites from breeding; I think the last two females that they were hoping to get pregnant had both become infertile. The last male Sudan is close to the end of his life only science can resurrect this subspecies now.

 

All of these artificial breeding techniques like IVF and embryo flushing and transfer and such like have become routine in livestock farming and horse breeding, vets with experience of using these techniques in livestock and even some zoo animals should in time be able to work out how to do this successfully with rhinos.

 

South African scientists have recently produced the first ever IVF Cape buffalo calf

 

World’s first IVF Cape buffalo paves way for endangered northern white rhino conservation

 

As vets succeed in using IVF in more species they will obviously learn more and more and get better at it so that they will one day succeed with rhinos. However the only hope for the northern white will be cloning and probably then hybridisation with southern whites, other than the animals at Dvur Kralove that were taken to Ol Pejeta the only other NWRs were at San Diego Wild Animal Park. At San Diego they may have stored viable genetic material from all of the captive NWRs which could be used for cloning but this is a very small number of animals and I wouldn't think there’s any more NWR DNA available I assume it’s not possible to extract viable DNA from a museum specimen I don’t know. Whatever the case while other breeding techniques have been perfected I think cloning still has some way to go, although the Koreans seem to be quite good at cloning pet dogs. A few years ago the very last female bucardo the Pyrenean race of the Spanish ibex died during a storm when the tree it was sheltering under fell on it (that’s what they assume had happened when they found the body) Spanish scientists preserved genetic material and then cloned her implanting the embryo into a domestic goat, however when the kid was born it died almost immediately, because its lungs hadn't developed properly. They will doubtless try again when they've worked out what went wrong the first time, if they do succeed in producing a healthy kid with no other Pyrenean ibex in existence they will have to mate it most likely with a Gredos ibex one of two surviving subspecies out of the original four to produce hybrids that have at least a few Pyrenean genes, these animals would then eventually be released back into the Pyrenees. A similar predicament to that that will face anyone cloning the northern white.

 

I think that cloning the northern white may be some time away and using these other breeding techniques to boost rhino numbers is likewise some time away.

Edited by inyathi
4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Bugs:

 

I appreciate that rhinos breed poorly under alien zoo conditions and well in the wild and under John Hume's more natural conditions. You said that you were unaware of anyone having looked into superovulation, embryo sexing and embryo transfer. In that sense, you answered my question. However, I thought these techniques might enable one to achieve a high proportion of female twin calves - so overcoming problems of surplus males and building breeding populations faster. I didn't pose the question in regard to overcoming breeding difficulties as seen in zoos.

 

@inyathi:

 

Your interesting comments primarily related to research conducted in zoos. It prompted me to have a quick dip in the relevant literature. One paper I read compared oestrus cycle lengths and characteristics in four rhino species and concluded that, in one, ovulation was induced (by mating) while, in the others, it was spontaneous (follicles rupturing after fixed point in cycle regardless of mating). (cats are induced ovulators and dogs not). It seems that many zoo rhinos of all species have anoestrus or cycle irregularly and that those with long cycles seldom conceive. Many seem to show evidence of uterine abnormality.

 

My speciality is not reproductive physiology and hence the following comments should be taken with a pinch of salt. It seems that repeated oestrus with no mating is harmful. I wonder, therefore, whether all rhino species are induced ovulators. Under such a scenario, unmated females would sustain the prolonged influence of oestrogens. Furthermore, corpora lutea, producing progesterone, would not develop as they typically would after follicle rupture. These circumstances will, over time, often lead to endometritis (uterine abnormality) and infertility.

Another set of commenst relating to zoos and animal breeding in general: Obese animals are difficult to get pregnant. Animals in a falling plane of nutrition are almost impossible to get pregnant and those on a rising plane are somewhat easier than those on a level plane.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having frequently commented on the subject of rhino horn over the years, I felt compelled to respond to the debate that has sprung up in this thread as I could see it turning into another argument about animal rights. I get slightly annoyed by the frequent assertion that opposition to the trade in rhino horn, is entirely driven by the animal rights agenda or at least the implication that it is which came up in the film. It is the case that some of the big NGOs involved in conservation these days do have such an agenda, but it’s absolutely not the case that all conservation organisations do. I have argued before that animal rights arguments really aren't helpful to the debate on rhino horn, because it allows advocates of trade to dismiss opposition to their viewpoint, on the grounds that animal campaigners are irrational extremists opposed to any and all animal exploitation and therefore need not be taken seriously. In my view this is bad for both sides of the debate, I see it as important to challenge all of the arguments put forward for a legal trade to at least try and ensure that every angle has been considered by those who advocate trade. If there is to be a legal trade then it is essential to get it absolutely right and not make the mistakes that have been made with ivory. Likewise I am not in any way ideologically opposed to a trade in rhino horn; I would describe my position as still unconvinced, I want to hear every argument in favour of trade to see if I should reconsider my position, there may well be questions and arguments that I haven't considered.

 

The issue is how to save the remaining 5 rhino species from extinction.

 

Sex selection that was mentioned would if it becomes possible with rhinos certainly allow rhino breeders to boost their breeding stock by producing more female calves and fewer surplus males. Unlike with dairy cattle where bull calves really have no use, unless they’re used for veal production which is now starting to happen, surplus rhino bulls can be raised and then sold for hunting. However I imagine that if a legal horn trade revived the market for live rhinos, the value of a breeding cow would presumably be much higher than that of a surplus bull, if rhino breeders stopped producing surplus bulls I'm not quite sure what effect this would then have on rhino hunting as there would still be plenty of hunters wanting to shoot one. I don’t have a problem with that if it’s done humanely but I wouldn't ever want to shoot one myself, having met a couple of white rhinos it would be about as challenging as walking into a field and shooting the neighbours bull. However that really has nothing to do with the trade in rhino horn, I have thought for some time that when a hunter shoots a rhino the horn should be removed and replaced with an exact replica. The real horn would be added to the stockpile, there’s no real merit in a hunter having the real horn if it can be replaced, and indeed having a real horn could be a liability. Only very recently a notorious Irish criminal gang were going around Europe stealing rhino horns from museums and private collections. Hunting while relevant to the value of rhinos should be entirely separate from the horn trade.

 

Of course as mentioned in my previous post the sort of breeding techniques that would allow rhino breeders to employ sex selection have not been perfected in rhinos, I don’t foresee a time at least in the immediate future when rhino farms will become like many cattle farms and no longer have their own bulls because they don’t need them anymore. There could come a time in future when AI becomes routine in rhinos, however no matter how docile they become, simply being very considerably bigger and heavier than cows makes them dangerous to work with. If this time ever comes it could lead to concerns that rhinos on farms are becoming more and more like other domestic animals but at the present time such concerns are a distraction when rhinos are being poached to extinction. This is why I have argued before that some interventions from animal campaigners are unhelpful to the rhino horn trade debate.

 

Before I continue in the interests of accuracy @@Bugs I have to say that the fallow deer isn't the most prolific antelope on the planet, but then I don’t believe that was quite what you meant to say. :lol:

 

It is although not native to the UK our most common deer species I believe, because of the numbers kept in deer parks, however in the UK deer are farmed solely for meat, the removal of antlers in velvet is illegal on the grounds of animal welfare. Because antlers are growing when they are covered in velvet deer have to be anaesthetised in order to remove them. Fallow may also be a very commonly farmed species in Europe, in New Zealand deer where farming is a huge industry indeed along with China NZ is the largest producer of farmed deer, fallow come second to red deer in numbers and are raised for meat and trophy antlers not as far as I know for velvet. NZ is properly the biggest producer of deer antler velvet and it comes almost entirely from red deer and wapiti (or elk as Americans like to call them) and hybrids of the two. Having said I've no doubt that some fallow deer velvet is sold but it may be that it’s not as valuable as that produced by red deer. Fallow may be the most prolific deer species in the world I don't know for sure, but not as far as velvet production is concerned.

 

I had intended to comment on the film advocating rhino horn trade some time ago when I first watched it, I have since watched it again several times and will now offer some thoughts. Inevitably I have ended up repeating points I have made in earlier threads but not everyone reading this will have read those posts or be aware of those other threads on rhino horn, however I apologies if I have repeated myself too much and for the length of my post as I hadn't intended it to be quite this long.

 

The film Rhino in Crisis A Blueprint for survival is very convincing and certainly makes a good case for the sustainable use of wildlife something I'm actually broadly in favour of, except when it comes to ivory and rhino horn for which I'm still to be convinced that trade is the right answer. Given the extraordinary high price that rhino horn attracts I don’t think you can really compare it to crocodile hide never mind to game meat or even hunting trophies.

 

I find what Michael t’Sas-Rolfe has to say, the least convincing though I don’t for a moment deny that he has a far greater understanding of economics than I do. Firstly he states that he doesn't think NGOs really understand the trade or not as well as they think they do, some campaigners against the trade in illegal wildlife products have a very good understanding of the trade most notably Karl Amman the Nairobi based photographer and filmmaker who has travelled extensively in Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and China investigating the rhino horn and other illegal wildlife trades. He then states that it really doesn't matter what rhino horn is used for I find this a very odd statement, it’s one thing to know but not to care what your product is used for, as might be the case with deer antler, but to sell something without having any proper understanding of what your customers are doing with it, seems pretty strange to me. I really can’t see how you can claim that demand reduction will either not work or not work fast enough if you don’t know who is using horn and what they are using it for, or how you can claim that we will never change 5,000 years of tradition if you don’t actually know whether they are still using horn for the same purpose that they were in the past. The reported use of horn in Vietnam to treat cancer for example is an entirely modern phenomenon the argument that we cannot persuade people to change their view to me doesn't therefore hold water. Being cynical one might suggest that people advocating that the trade should be legalised, are obviously not in favour of demand reduction and are therefore going to argue against it and that it won’t work because they have no interest in it working.

 

I think that that research on rhino horn consumption contradicts his view, that it doesn't matter what horn is used for.

 

Here are some links to articles by Karl Amman published in Swara magazine that I have posted before, the last one links to the whole issue of Swara rather than the individual article so you need to scroll through it.

 

Wishful thinking and rhino conservation

 

Tiger cake and rhino horn – a walk on the Asian wild side

 

Rhino jewellery the latest Asian fashion fad

 

The fact that rhino horn is increasingly being used to make jewellery might seem to contradict the research the @@Bugs posted, but not necessarily because obviously when you carve rhino horn you produce lots of shavings that can still be consumed as ATM. So it is possible that horn is both made into jewellery and ornaments as well as being used for ATM. I think it is important to know these things because it has been suggested that for example the horns should be ground up in Africa first prior to export but obviously that wouldn't be a good idea if they want the horn for carving.

 

Also as I understand it the centre of the trade has shifted from China to Vietnam and Laos although having said that large numbers of Chinese tourists visit these countries and take rhino horn souvenirs back over the border, so arguably these countries are a backdoor into China. I don’t think it was mentioned in the film but it has been before that the horn would be sold through licensed medical centres in China. Do you really know where the main market for the horn is? Is it China or is Vietnam and maybe also Laos or would legal horn be sold in all three countries?

 

He goes on to state that contrary to what a lot of people think hiring shooters to kill rhinos is expensive, well the journalists who have visited the infamous rhino horn towns in Mozambique would seem to bear this out. You can tell who the poachers are because they live in the big houses and drive the flash cars; however their wealth comes at a high price, a good few of their mates who have ventured into Kruger hoping to make their fortune have not returned. It is a risky business being a rhino poacher you may make a lot of money or you may wind up dead from a ranger or soldier’s bullet. Of course the money that poachers are paid has to reflect that risk.

 

He further states that smuggling horn costs a lot of money; this again is borne out by the recent case of the rhino horn seizure at Bangkok airport for example. That consignment of 21 horns arrived on a flight from Ethiopia. A while ago it was rumoured that there could still possibly be a few black rhinos in the country but this seemed very unlikely and I'm sure is definitely not the case now, I would think the last rhino in the country disappeared decades ago. I wouldn't know how much if any horn they might have stockpiled, but it is reasonable to assume that these horns were not Ethiopian in origin. They therefore came from somewhere further south, ignoring stockpiles there are I would suggest only 4 countries that have enough live rhinos to produce that much horn, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa and given that the worst poaching seems to be occurring in the last of these countries, my guess would be that’s where the horns came from. To get that number of horns from SA to Addis and then onto Bangkok would obviously cost a good deal of money, in our dangerous world one would hope that everything that is put on an aeroplane is x-rayed, so clearly people are being paid to look the other way. When the bags containing the horns arrived they were collected by two women, according to all of the reports I read in the Thai media the women were accompanied by two policemen, they escorted them through the airport and tried to ensure that their bags were not opened, clear evidence of corruption. So again this confirms his view that it costs quite a lot of money to get rhino horns from Africa to Asia.

 

The fact that the crime syndicates can afford to pay poachers a good amount for their services, that they can pay all of the necessary people to look the other way when the horns are smuggled out, is possible because of the very high price of horn. It would seem to me that the most logical way to put a stop to this, would be to try to bring down the price of horn to a point where it is too low for the poachers to be willing to risk their lives and for the syndicates to want to have to bribe lots of different people. That we should be trying to reduce the profit margins, to such an extent that poaching becomes no longer economic. Yet this is not what Mr t'Sas Rolfe is advocating, he is instead suggesting a system that would keep the horn price as high as possible, this can only succeed in helping all rhinos if you can prevent the sale of illegal horns (which I doubt), if a parallel illegal trade exists, then a very high horn price would mean that the criminals will still have plenty of money to hire poachers and bribe officials. Therefore poaching would simply continue as now, I didn't entirely understand the point about why a low rhino horn price would be a bad thing, all that was said is that it would encourage speculation and corruption, I don't really follow why a low price would encourage corruption and an extremely high price wouldn't. Since many of advocates of trade believe in using a legal trade to bring the price right down I think this point could have been addressed much better. Is maintaining a high horn price in the best interests of rhinos or rhino farmers? I don’t wish to suggest for a moment that Mr Hume is not sincere in his desire to save rhinos, but he and other rhino owners are sitting on millions of dollars worth of horn if they are regularly dehorning their animals and storing the horns, for private rhino owners to advocate a trade model that would crash the price of horn or at least bring it down substantially would be madness. I hasten to add that I have absolutely no objection at all to farmers making money from their animals, but it is easy to see why some people would see this purely as a money making venture rather than a conservation one. Why people might think that they have chosen the legalisation route that would be best for rhino farmers, rather than the one that might best for rhinos overall.

 

He did make one point that I have made myself before on a few occasions, that attempting to flood the market would be futile because the buyers in Asia would simply buy up all the horn stockpile it and trickle it onto the market to keep the price high. All you would succeed in doing is moving stockpiles of horn out of the hands of governments and private individuals in Africa and into the hands of traders, very likely criminals in Asia. However while you could not flood the market I'm sure you could bring the price of horn down markedly if that was your aim.

 

A good deal of the argument in the film is about how strict protection and the militarisation of conservation hasn't worked and has alienated local African populations living around protected areas I don’t entirely disagree with that. However if it proves impossible to stop the sale of illegal horns and a parallel illegal trade exists then all rhinos will still be vulnerable to poaching as they are now and will require the same degree of military style protection.

 

The trade system that is being advocated would guarantee a very high price for horn and Professor Child states that you should be trying to increase the value of your animals, not decrease their value through demand reduction. I do not understand how you can square keeping the price of rhino horn as high as possible, whilst at the same time arguing against the militarisation of conservation. Obviously it makes sense if you are a private rhino owner to want to keep the price of horn very high so that you can both profit from the horn and the sale of live rhinos for which there would be a good market once again. However if you were say a rhino tracker working for Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia spending every day tracking the last truly wild black rhinos in Damaraland or you were a TANAPA ranger guarding the free roaming black rhinos in the middle of the Serengeti, why would you want your rhinos to be as valuable as possible. Surely for these people and the rhinos they look after, reducing the price of rhino horn as far as possible would be a much better idea, than ensuring that they still have a huge price on their heads. If as I believe there will be, there is a parallel illegal trade in horns then these rhinos will be no less vulnerable to poachers. If you cannot prevent the sale of illegal horns then conservation will have to be just as militarised as it is now to protect rhinos. Much is made of how rhinos do not need to be killed to obtain their horns but again as I think I've said before, they do if they don’t belong to you. Unless you can make it near impossible to sell illegal horns, then ensuring that the horns on a rhino’s nose are still worth many thousands of USDs will ensure that that animal remains a tempting target for poachers.

 

In Damaraland they do dehorn some of their rhinos, John Hume said in the film that this does not alter their breeding behaviour but then clarifies that by stating that he’s not talking about a wild situation, because in the wild it does. In a fight for dominance and mating rights between two bulls, a smaller bull with intact horns will defeat a larger dehorned bull allowing the inferior bull to mate, which is not how it should be. It is also the case that if cows are dehorned the survival rate of their calves drops significantly as they are no longer able to defend them from predators, in Damaraland if a cow is believed to be pregnant they will not dehorn her and if she does give birth they will wait until the calf is two years old before doing so. By that age the calf is big enough to defend itself against lions and spotted hyenas and they can dehorn both mother and calf. So dehorning wild rhinos isn't quite as straight forward as dehorning farmed ones, but you could certainly argue at least in the case of Namibia that they could be brought on board and that as they are dehorning animals when they can, they should be selling the horns. Maybe this could be done in the Serengeti as well, I don’t know, but this is the argument that I want to see, rather than only really being told about what will happen in South Africa.

 

Essentially my point is that maintaining a very high price for rhino horn, will only help save rhinos outside of farms and private conservancies, if you can guarantee that selling illegal horns will become more and more difficult. Otherwise rhinos will remain a target for poachers. I don’t understand enough about economics but I don’t really follow this argument as to how legal trade will crowd out illegal horn, I believe that corruption will guarantee that illegal horns are still able to reach Asia and will still be sold and I haven’t seen anything to change my view. Is the point that in theory once the trade is legal the privately owned rhino population in SA and perhaps also Namibia, will increase year on year as more people see how much money they can make from owning rhinos, therefore the amount of horn available for sale will keep increasing?

 

If the effect of this is that as the amount of legal horn available increases so the pressure on rhinos elsewhere in other countries decreases that would be great, but I want someone make the case for this and show that this really is what will happen.

 

The spokesman from de Beers makes the point that if any of the licensed outlets for rhino horn are found to be selling illegal (laundered) horn they would be as it were struck off, causing them to lose a very lucrative source of income. This certainly goes some way to addressing the corruption issue and laundering of horns, but I'm still not quite sure how you will stop illegal horns from being sold elsewhere. Will the outlets that currently sell horns illegally alongside bags of pangolin scales and other illegal wildlife products be shutdown? How will the legal trade force these people to stop selling horns? Bearing in mind a point I've made before that the criminal syndicates that control the illegal wildlife trade aren't simply going to walk away from one of their most lucrative products. I think I'm right in saying that wildlife is the fourth largest illegal trade, it is more lucrative than drugs and in many Asian countries if you’re caught smuggling drugs you can get the death penalty, if you’re caught smuggling wildlife products you get little more than a slap on the wrist. What I want to see is a more detailed more convincing explanation as to how the legal trade will put these people out of the rhino horn business.

 

In reference to that research on rhino horn consumption a couple of points I didn't entirely follow although I confess I probably haven’t read through all of it thoroughly enough. What exactly is meant by wild rhinos? and what do consumers understand this to mean because having seen the video of John Hume’s rhinos I would certainly not regard them as wild, they are clearly farmed. If consumers want wild horn then that’s not what he would be selling, looking at this from a rational western perspective there is clearly no difference between farmed horn and wild horn it is all exactly the same, it’s not like for example salmon where there is a discernible difference between farmed and wild even if it’s not huge. We I think all accept that rhino horn has no actual medicinal properties, we just disagree over whether that matters or not, the idea that wild horn is somehow better or more potent is ridiculous to us. However what matters is what the consumer thinks and if they believe that wild is better, then that is what they will want if they can get it. This research confirms my view as I've argued before that if the criminals can still sell illegal horn, they will claim that only their horn is genuinely wild whereas the legal horn is farmed, that they are offering a superior product. Also they appear to want horns from rhinos that have not been killed but such horn is not currently available yet this hasn't stopped them from buying horn products. The obvious question then is if consumers prefer wild horn, would they choose wild horn obtained by lethal means over farmed horn obtained by non lethal means? Which is more important to the consumer, the fact that the horn is wild, or the fact that it was obtained by non lethal means?

 

If illegal horn is still being sold how will you persuade people to buy legal horn in preference? After all we are told there is no stigma attached to buying illegal horn indeed the fact that is illegal is part of the attraction.

 

My issue remains the same as before, I know and understand what legalisation could do for rhinos in South Africa and probably also Namibia but I still don’t know what it will do for rhinos in Tanzania or for that matter Nepal where a greater one-horned rhino was poached just recently. What I want to see is someone explaining how this model for establishing community rhino conservancies for example will be applied in other countries besides SA and Namibia. I might add on this point that in Kenya, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, KWS and the Northern Rangelands Trust have already successfully established a community rhino sanctuary Sera Conservancy in Northern Kenya in an area where everyone thought reintroducing rhinos was madness, without obviously anyone selling rhino horns. Of course if the trade was legal, those people though they don’t own the rhinos as all rhinos in Kenya still belong to the state, could in theory benefit from selling the horns. That is if the horns can be harvested I don’t how easy it would be darting and dehorning black rhinos in what I assume is some pretty thick bush. My point essentially as I've argued before is success means a reduction of poaching in all rhino range states in both Africa and Asia and I want to see arguments put forward as to how legalisation will benefit all of these other rhinos. South Africa may have more rhinos than any other country but it still only has two out of the five rhino species and discounting the extralimital East African black rhinos at Thaba Tholo Ranch in Limpopo only 3 out of four African rhino subspecies (1 white and 2 black, I regard the northern white as effectively extinct). If legalisation benefits rhinos in South Africa and their population increases but has the opposite effect on East African black rhinos or Asian rhinos then that is not a positive outcome in my book.

 

The question of whether or not community run rhino sanctuaries harvesting horn will be established in say East Africa is actually perhaps somewhat academic given that neither Kenya nor Tanzania supports legalisation. Surely you need to convince these countries that they are wrong and they need to come on board.

 

Will legalisation put black rhinos back into places where they are extinct like for example the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique, will those fisherman on the Lugenda River shown in the film be running their own community rhino sanctuary someday? Bearing in mind that in recent years elephant poaching has been out of control in the reserve and what was a substantial population that included more than a few huge tuskers has been severely reduced. One could not currently regard Niassa as a suitable place to return rhinos.

 

Will it put black rhinos back into Uganda or into Ruaha NP in Tanzania and other places?

 

Will it make greater one-horned rhinos in Nepal safer than they are currently?

 

I understand why the film is so focused on the South Africa and only really looks at Kenya to point out how Kenya’s conservation policy has failed, although there are great things going on in Kenya like the Sera Conservancy, I broadly agree that Kenya’s rejection of sustainable use has been very bad for wildlife numbers.

 

Some animal rights campaigners might object to the sustainable harvesting of lechwe but I can see no reason at all why if the black lechwe are properly protected which thanks to AP they now are that a small number shouldn't be harvested. However poaching of black lechwe would I presume be purely to supply meat to local markets, it is not smuggled out of the continent and sold for ridiculous sums. There are I've no doubt plenty of examples of how animals can be used sustainably to provide meat or generate income, however I don’t think you can realistically compare either rhinos or elephants to these other animals because of the huge difference in price, you can’t compare a rhino horn or a tusk to a haunch of lechwe venison. The appalling case of the rhino that was poached in a French zoo just recently, to me really illustrates just how different the situation with rhinos is to that of other animals, outside of a war zone where people are starving no one is going to break into a zoo to kill an animal for meat.

 

In essence I believe that the very high price of rhino horn and ivory makes a well regulated sustainable trade in either product almost impossible.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

there is an interesting article in PLOS ONE A Robson et al SAVANNA ELEPHANT NUMBERS ARE ONLY A QUARTER OF THEIR EXPECTED VALUES APR 17 2017

 

tying to estimate carrying capacity from water and vegetation information , for 18 reserves with broadly stable populations , then applying this top 73 protected areas , they estimate from the 2016 ele database that the 73 reserves are capable of supporting another around 750,000 elephants

 

poachers have done massive values

 

sorry I tried to link the article but it did not work

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This all shows how severe the poaching has been

 

I am somewhat surprised that due to uncertain information a PIKE ratio of zero has bee used for Etosha NP , the place is not free of poaching

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

there has been a major reduction in the Botswana wildlife and national parks department as part of a government austerity program

 

this could impact both patrols and farmer compensation

 

the minister hopes that their no nonsense reputation will keep away the poaching gangs

 

 

please see http://travel.iafrica.com/bulletinboard/1048127.html

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@COSMIC RHINO You started this thread to discuss ivory/horn trade so keep to the topic and post other general conservation stories here, otherwise everything just gets confused and lost within this topic.

 

Thanks, Matt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gee whiz @@inyathi

I think I need a new laptop as the battery on mine runs out before I get to the end of your posts. :o

Seriously Rob, I do admire the amount of work you put into your posts.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

traffic http://www.traffic.org has just issued a report on the Hong Kong ivory trade CLOSING STRATEGY ENDING IVORY TRADE IN HONG KONG

 

it is an extensive shop survey done in 2015 , then updated in 2016

 

 

  • on 38% of the outlets are licenced
  • 36% of the outlets were prepared to sell to customers taking ivory out of HK, in one case the outlet would ship the product to China
  • this is against the regulations
  • shops are trading less with some on part time hours or closing branches
  • some need to also sell carved stones and carved wood to remain open
  • there have been large scale imports of pre convention ivory into HK from Europe , EU regulations could end this soon
  • HK in recent years has been the destination of large scale illegal ivory shipments
  • under the regulations for ending the ivory trade the ban will only be on new ivory, this will not apply to the antiques market
  • a continuing antique ivory trade could easily be abused
  • there is concern that the massive unsold ivory stockpile could be moved to other countries in Indo China
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

RHINO POACHING IN KZ NATAL

 

I find the bulletin of the conservation action trust to be a useful source of information

 

most recently sourced from news 24 POACHING AND BUDGET CRISIS SPUR DEHORNING MOVE IN AFRICA'S CONSERVATION CRADLE 24 APR

 

Shows

 

  • several poaching syndicates have relocated from kruger to kz natal
  • there is a poaching problem in hluhluwe imfolozi park
  • the provincial govt conservation agency has had a major decline in revenue ,down 32% in operational revenue
  • the provincial govt reduction in its subsidy is equal to a 28% reduction in the budget
  • they will need to engage in fundraising
  • it is likely that this will cause a decline in field security operations with some areas not being covered
  • the stats tell it all around 10 rhinos poached per year before 2008,116 in.2015 , 162 in 2016 and , 65 by mid apr 2017
Edited by COSMIC RHINO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

  • it is interesting how they get separate KZ Natal stats ,something that has not been released in recent years
  • the discussion is of the possibility of mass scale

mention was made of a wildlife vet in the article Dr Dave Cooper has given an interview to FARMER'S WEEKLY

 

 

please see http://www.farmersweekly.co.za/animals/game-and-wildlife/dr-dave-cooper-frontline-rhino-poaching/

 

sorry the link does not work well, it gave me a general page for the publication

 

there is a search the article is DR DAVE COOPER AT THE FRONTLINE OF RHINO POACHING dated 10FEB 2017

 

a whole lot of his work now involves treating injured rhinos , forensic examination of poached rhinos and care of severly battered motherless calves

 

he finds it emotionally disturbing and has problems sleeping

Edited by COSMIC RHINO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@inyathi:

 

I read your post # 183 with interest. I have just got back from Northern Cape Province where, among other things, I was attempting to improve my knowledge of the economics of various land uses and of South African systems of wildlife management on private farms/estates. In due course, I will produce a trip report. However, before this topic of discussion ceases, I thought I'd respond to your post first.

 

1) You start by stating that you generally believe in a "sustainable use" model of conservation. You end (final sentence) by stating that you don't think it should apply to ivory or rhino horn because their high value encourages illegal trade. I take an opposite view. I believe that range states need to maximise the income available to them. Ivory and rhino horn could, eventually, generate some US$ 1000 million/annum. If a high proportion of this could be ploughed back into wildlife conservation (admittedly a big if, given the potential for corruption) one could expect much better funding for protected areas and greater opportunities for local communities to benefit from their natural resources - both likely to reduce poaching. It is not sensible to attempt to undercut illegal trade and, certainly in the case of rhino horn, the very high value of horn makes it unlikely that undercutting alone would be enough to eliminate the temptation to poach.

2) Your third link was to the 2013 July-September edition of SWARA magazine. Did you read other articles in the publication - I'm thinking about those starting on pages 20, 29 and 42? The first was a pro-trade opinion piece. The second gave a very succinct summary of the Hwange's Dilemma debate that we had on Safaritalk and made the point that elephants have the potential to multiply and wreck their habitat, both to their own detriment and to the detriment of other species. The third was an interview with Richard Leakey in which he stated that demand reduction for ivory was unlikely to succeed, but that restoration of previous levels of funding to KWS would have a major impact on reducing corruption and levels of poaching in Kenya. Your intention with this link was to draw attention to the fact that relatively little rhino horn is used for medicinal purposes and, instead, represents a status symbol with increasing amounts being converted to jewellery. To this extent, it is equivalent to works of art and diamond rings and pro-traders have little need to defend themselves from claims that they are immorally promulgating a trade in fake medicine.

3) You suggest that trophy hunters should content themselves with exact replicas of their trophies to take home and that the genuine product should go into a stockpile. I think this is a very good idea, provided said stockpile is subsequently traded for the benefit of conservation. In this way, hunters would be making greater contributions to conservation than they already do.

4) You are concerned that the horn trade is a purely South African issue and could be interpreted as a money making scheme for private farmers that has no benefit for wild rhino conservation. I tend to agree with you that it would be much better if other countries could be persuaded to support legalisation. I can conceive of a way in which this could be achieved, but it would require a lengthy explanation that would be inappropriate here. I will, however, make one observation based on my reading of the Great Elephant Census results. There are currently approximately 400000 elephants in Africa and around 1.2 million sq km of protected areas. If demand reduction succeeded in eliminating poaching, elephant numbers would, at optimal stocking densities, rise to 900000. Then, to prevent habitat destruction, it would become necessary to cull some 45000 animals/annum. I conclude, therefore, that demand destruction is a massively damaging strategy, which, if it worked, would destroy value and make habitat and wildlife conservation very much more difficult.

 

Finally, unless an appeal in the South African court is successful, it is my understanding that it will soon be legal to sell horn in that country. Further, it will be legal for foreigners to buy said horn and take it back to their own countries provided that the countries have not imposed import bans. Can anyone confirm my understanding and list countries that would block imports (I think USA is one). I had previously thought that all countries signed up to CITES had current import bans, but my trip to South Africa made me think I was wrong.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@@douglaswise Thanks for responding.

 

@@inyathi I have tried to counter your argument - below. I have a feeling that you have reached paralysis analysis on this topic and overthinking it a little. If it were a perfect world, there would be no poaching in the first place, and we would all be law abiding citizens. Proponents for legal trade are not promising some silver bullet, they are just saying that the trade ban has been tested, and to continue with it will simply continue on the current trajectory. We are saying give trade a chance, allow the hundreds of rhino custodians who speak for thousands of rhino to try something that they are currently forbidden from doing by people who have no rhino.

 

Firstly thanks for taking the time to respond in such detail. I can see that you have done extensive research on this topic and made an effort to form your own unbiased opinion. I apologize up front for my response, as in comparison to yours it will most certainly be tardy. I don't have your writing skills.

 

Your point on the Animal Rights interference in this topic is noted. I wish it weren’t so, but unfortunately it’s a force that is impossible to ignore, and few people are not influenced by their misleading propaganda. They are vocal and vitriolic and often boil up their own science. I am pleased to hear that you haven’t fallen for their antics.

 

Rhino horn is a commodity that is not only consumed, but carved and used as a speculative investment.

 

The linked paper suggests pretty much what we thought, and although the paper reveals some interesting aspects, its clear that in 2012 the market went underground. This, because China prohibited the sale of horn on auction in 2011. In my opinion, that should be no surprise, as the moment you ban something, it simply goes underground and the price goes up. At the same time, as if in an effort of denial; Vietman has been set up as a conduit for trade with China.

 

More here http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/08/26/chinese-investors-are-driving-slaughter-rhinos

“The study looks at articles from more than 300 Chinese newspapers between 2000 and 2014 and reveals that 75 percent focus on investment and collectible value versus just 29 percent focused on medicinal uses”

 

It seems that the Vietnamese entry into the market is mostly a conduit to supply China and a good speculative investment.

 

So – in the light of the above – it IS important to understand what people use rhino horn for, and its clear that the consumptive market is way smaller than than we estimated and we need to factor in the importance of a speculative market. The presence and size of the speculative market is important, as speculative markets play on perceptions of scarcity. A legal trade will remove the incentive to speculate, as the perceptions of scarcity will no longer be there.

 

That said - Mike TR is not to be taken too literally when he says it doesn't really matter what they want the horn for, its the fact that they want it that is important.

 

Your allegations that Hume is doing this for financial reasons is completely trumped up, and in this case you may have fallen for some of the propaganda. He started his rhino project long before the poaching became an issue. He is 75 years old, and would never ever be able to break even in his life time from the sale of rhino horn. The fact that he has become an advocate for trade is because he knows that it will save his rhinos. John Hume has sacrificed lifestyle and comfort for his rhino, and of course mountains of money.. Ted Reilly said the following to me.. "I wonder who, other than John Hume, has done more for Rhino than Ian Player?"

 

Your argument about customers preferring wild horn may have a little truth to it, but I think more is made of this than what needs to be. Most rhino are wild anyway. (even the ones under private curatorship). If you really believed this, then you shouldn’t have a problem if trade is tested, because if you are right, then rhino farmers wouldn’t be able to sell their horn anyway.

 

In summery your points –

  • the balance of your argument is based on fear that legal trade will “fuel” illegal trade.
  • Legal trade provides a smoke screen for illegal trade.
  • Only private rhinos, or perhaps only SA and Namibia may benefit, and not other countries.
  • Rhino countries that decide not to trade will somehow find themselves in a worse situation that they are now.

 

I find the first point difficult to understand. I think it stems from the incorrect assumption that many NGOs are punting that the one off ivory auctions caused the increase in poaching of elephants. CITES know this is not true, and many researchers agree that there are a multitude of other reasons why the sudden interest in ivory. That said – I repeat, what many people have said – The Auction of a commodity once every 10 years to two buyers, and to immediately follow it with a ban, is the most bizarre economic system ever seen.

 

Legal trade does not lead to illegal trade. To the contrary, illegal trade doesn’t need a parallel legal trade to justify itself. It has and is functioning as such now. So we are not looking to create a trade, we are looking to replace the trade.

 

You agree that private rhino owners will save their rhino, and that even the whole country as well as Namibia and Zimbabwe may benefit. That amounts to about 98% of all rhino in Africa. Your worry is for rhino range states who choose not to “trade” rhino horn. I am confused why their situation will become any worse. At the very least, their situation should improve, as the legal horn begins to outcompete illegal horn.

 

Countries who are trying to protect the one horned rhino should be relieved that other countries are able to use their rhino to help them out.

 

A lot is said about the bear bile and tiger bone trade. They maintain that supply of farmed bile and tiger bones has been going on for years, yet there is still poaching. I look at it a different way. Imagine how bad the poaching would be if there were not a source from the captive providers. SA has been exporting 800 full lion skeletons a year since 2012. How will the wild population be able to supply even 10% of that?

 

I see people argue that abalone farming has done nothing to stop abalone poaching, however, poaching would be much worse if we weren’t able to produce the bulk of abalone through farming.

 

For further reading see this Donate Captive Tiger parts to save their wild cousins.

About the lion bone trade.. Do we change the current status and stop supply of 800 Skeletons a year and give the business to the criminals?

The big problem with opposing legal trade in rhino horn.

Edited by Bugs
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Finally, unless an appeal in the South African court is successful, it is my understanding that it will soon be legal to sell horn in that country. Further, it will be legal for foreigners to buy said horn and take it back to their own countries provided that the countries have not imposed import bans. Can anyone confirm my understanding and list countries that would block imports (I think USA is one). I had previously thought that all countries signed up to CITES had current import bans, but my trip to South Africa made me think I was wrong.

I think its beyond the point of being able to appeal now. This has already been decided in the highest court in the country, and been lost with costs.

 

Incidentally - another court case has just been won on exactly the same principle - "that there was no public participation". That being the Nuclear deal that Jacob Zuma is involved in. The trillion dollar nuclear deal is back on hold..

 

Its important to understand that many people who were advocating legal trade would have far preferred that it went through CITES and was controlled by CITES. I think we have all realised that it was unrealistic for this to happen. Its difficult to predict what will happen with the new domestic trade, but as long as rhino horn is sold and and exported legally, we would consider that there is a lot to be learned from this. There may certainly be a little fine tuning needed. By the time we approach next CITES we will be much wiser.

 

The ability to export horn is set within CITES anyway. Its done from horn of dead rhino as a result of trophy hunting. So CITES cant object. There will, no doubt be a lot of activist trying to derail the process, but some countries will allow imports. This is crucial to the success of the trade mechanism, and nothing will be learned if this is not allowed.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @@douglaswise

@@Bugs

 

Having written down various thoughts it’s taken me a while to arrange them into some sort of proper response in between doing other things. Before I add my response here’s a statement from the International Rhino Foundation on the opening of the domestic horn trade.

 

IMPLICATIONS OF OPENING DOMESTIC RHINO HORN TRADE IN SOUTH AFRICA

 

Okay first point actually I don’t believe that the high price of ivory and rhino horn encourages illegal trade, I believe it guarantees illegal trade. I believe that ensuring that the price remains high will guarantee that this illegal trade will continue, and that while wild rhinos may not be worse off than they are now, for the more vulnerable populations their situation will not improve, as long as rhino horn is worth tens of thousands of dollars.

 

The extreme high cost of protecting both rhinos and elephants is a direct consequence of the price of ivory and rhino horn, if the latter were worthless, as it should be in an ideal world, protecting rhinos would be no more expensive than protecting buffalos. It seems perverse to me to maintain a high price for either product in order to fund the conservation of these animals, when it is the high price of these products that has made their conservation so expensive in the first place.

 

The film brought up crocodile farming explaining how this had effectively killed of the poaching of crocodilians, that it is no longer economic to poach the animals. My point is that legalisation of the trade in rhino horn will not do the same thing for rhinos, that if a single crocodile hide was worth as much as a single rhino horn poaching of crocodiles would not have stopped. The advantage with farming crocs is that you can supply as many hides as required and ensure that they are of a much better quality than would be the case if they were harvested from the wild. Legitimate businesses using crocodile hides have no interest in selling products made from illegal poached hides. I have tried to establish roughly what the typical price of a crocodile/alligator hide would be, but obviously it depends on a bunch of different factors, from the species to the size and age of the animal and whether or not you’re buying in bulk and so on. One website I looked at suggested that a 50/54 cm hide (hides are measured across the widest part of the belly) could cost $2,000 if you’re buying in quantity. To raise an animal to that sort of size on a farm I believe takes around 3.5 years, obviously the older the animal the more expensive the hide will be, because it has cost that much more to produce. You then also have to take into account the cost of processing because generally you’d buy the hides already tanned. Smaller hides would obviously be sold for a lot less, the typical cost of a crocodilian hide is therefore only ever going to be a tiny fraction of the price of a rhino horn.

 

It simply isn’t worth trading in poached hides anymore, by the time you got to pay someone to go out and kill the animals, then to get the hides to market you’ve got to bribe lots of people, pay people to supply forged CITES documentation and to look the other way and so on. It’s just not worthwhile, the only reason people would have to buy your illegal hides, is because they are much cheaper than the legal product, this would likely have to be the case anyway because you can’t guarantee the same quality. if you’re a business dealing in or making products from crocodilian and other exotic hides in the US for example, why would you risk selling illegal hides when you know that the US Fish and Wildlife are likely to turn up for an inspection at some point. There’s no longer an opportunity for criminals to make good money from crocodilians, I’m not sure if it was in the film, but John Hume has talked about selling rhino horn for $20,000/kg, a large rhino horn might weigh 4kgs and therefore be worth $80,000 that leaves plenty of scope for criminals to make money. This is why I believe that a high price guarantees that there will be illegal trade, the price of legal horn will not be dramatically lower than the current illegal horn price. The high prices of both ivory and rhino horn ensures that there is a substantial profit margin for the criminals trading in these products, lower value animal products whether it’s crocodile hides or meat do not have the potential profit margins

 

Also the markets are completely different, with rhino horn the final purchaser would be perfectly happy to purchase a single entirely unprocessed horn, if they’re keeping it as an investment they don’t need to do anything to it and if they are consuming it, they can process it themselves, as doing so requires no special knowledge or skill. With crocodile hides the final purchaser is buying a product made from the leather, they’re not going to buy a single unprocessed hide. Tanning hides is skilled process it’s not a DIY job that anyone can do at home, there’s no benefit to buying an unprocessed hide, and I wouldn’t think likely to want to buy just a tanned hide either to say hang on the wall as you might with a tiger skin. Selling croc hides you’re basically only really selling to businesses not to individual consumers, this I would suggest makes selling poached hides much more difficult.

 

One of the main purposes of crocodile farming was to bring an end to the poaching of wild crocodilians and it has been very successful in doing that, you can see this very clearly as I pointed out in another thread, when you visit the Pantanal and see the huge numbers of yacare caiman, a species that had been approaching extinction due to poaching. As I pointed out caimans produce bony deposits in their belly scales known as osteoderms this makes much of their hide unusable. Crocodiles don’t produce osteoderms, so while people in the fashion industry can buy all of the farmed crocodile hides that they need, there is no point at all in poaching caiman for their hides nobody wants them anymore. Crocodile farming pushed the criminals out of the crocodile hide business because there was no longer any profit in it, rhino farming will not (in my view) push the criminals out of the rhino horn business because there will still be huge profits to be made from illegal horn. I have not seen a satisfactory explanation as to how a legal trade will prevent the criminals from continuing to profit from illegal horn.

 

The idea of using captive tiger parts to supply China is certainly interesting but if you leave aside concerns about encouraging the consumption of tiger parts, I fail to see how it is that relevant. The crucial point is it would not be a commercial enterprise, there’s no money involved so that there is no incentive for tiger owners to kill their animals, and this means it can provide direct competition with the poachers in a way that farming tigers cannot. The issue as I’ve pointed out before with tiger farming is that a poached tiger will always be cheaper than a farmed one, since poaching tigers generally only requires some wire to make snares, a gun and some bullets. Raising tiger cubs to adulthood is expensive because of the large amount of meat they need to consume. A farmed tiger will not be cheaper than a poached one but the donated remains of a captive one would be. People in China consume tiger bone wine and such like because they believe that the tiger is the most vigorous animal in the forest and that they will gain some of the tiger’s vigour from consuming it. Some consumers may well prefer wild tiger because they believe that captive/farmed tigers do not have the ‘vigour’ as their wild counterparts.

 

The issue with of farmed vs wild with rhino horn is not about what we who know about rhinos understand by farmed and wild and whether there’s really any actual difference, it’s about what the consumer understands. If they are consuming rhino horn for its supposed medicinal properties in defiance of the evidence that it has no such properties, why would they not also believe that there is a difference between wild and farmed? However I have of course suggested on many occasions that it is no longer primarily being consumed so I accept that this point while valid in the case of tigers may now be somewhat moot with regard to rhino horn if people aren't using it for medicine.

 

In your post you say

 

Your allegations that Hume is doing this for financial reasons is completely trumped up, and in this case you may have fallen for some of the propaganda.

 

If you read what I said I did not say he is doing it entirely for financial reasons, a legal trade in rhino horn can in theoretically go in one of two directions it can either maintain a high horn price as is proposed, or it can attempt to bring the price right down as low as possible. What I said was that it would be madness for him or other rhino owners to advocate the latter course and that has nothing to do with anyone’s propaganda, it’s an entirely logical assumption, John Hume as I have stated has advocated selling horn for $20,000/kg given the number of rhinos that he owns it is perfectly reasonable to assume that he has a large stockpile of horn and that it is potentially worth a huge amount of money. Taking a course of action that would render that stockpile almost worthless makes no financial sense; he has as you say sacrificed a mountain of money, it is perfectly reasonable for him to want to make some of it back. That doesn’t mean that his primary motivation isn’t saving rhinos but he’s still a farmer and like all farmers he has to make money. There’s nothing unreasonable about suggesting that rhino owners are opting for a system that will guarantee them a financial reward, after all isn’t that the point to allow people to profit from their animals, it’s not credible to suggest that people’s motivations are not influenced by the financial implications of trade. Maintaining a high horn price will be good for farmed rhinos because it will revive the trade in live rhinos, I just happen to believe it’s not in the best interests of wild rhinos.

 

Where I’m perhaps wrong in making that assumption, is that I did also say that flooding the market as many people advocate will not work, therefore using a legal trade to bring the price down may not be an option at all in any case. A lot of people would though assume that if a legal trade leads to a significant growth in the rhino population this would increase the amount of available horn, theoretically more horn could then be released onto the market lowering the price. They may not have considered that this won’t work, because as I say the horn will just be stockpiled in Asia to keep the price to the consumer as high as possible. However it is inevitable that some people will assume that the reason for not going down this route is because it is not in the rhino owners’ interest to do so.

 

I am not so cynical but there are people who think that the motivation for legalising trade is to kill off all wild rhinos ensuring that the private rhino owners will have a complete monopoly on rhino horn.

Rhino sale bombshell hidden in new draft regulations You say that the point is for legal trade to out compete the illegal trade but this is precisely the point I don’t really understand is exactly how it will do this because it doesn't make poaching uneconomic.

In the Daily Maverick article Ivo Vegter states.

 

When consumers have a legal avenue to procure the products they want, there is less motive to incur the significant risks of poaching.

 

 

Risks to whom exactly? As far as I can see the only significant risk is to the poachers, the foot soldiers in Africa or Asia who have to go out and kill the rhinos at risk of being killed by rangers or soldiers. What risk is there to the people further up the chain? Part of the problem in Vietnam is that consumers of rhino horn include government officials, is it any wonder that laws are not properly enforced and criminals are not adequately punished. What evidence is there to show that people will stop buying illegal horn if they can buy legal horn? Will there be enough horn available to satisfy the demand? Or will people seek out illegal horn because there was no more legal horn available? Or will they buy illegal horn because it’s cheaper?

 

In the article he also says

 

It relies on expensive enforcement programmes by heavily-armed security forces, but amid persistently high unemployment, they fight against an inexhaustible supply of would-be poachers.

 

 

This is a point I don’t really understand.

 

If horn is to be sold at that for $20,000/kg how does legalisation change this situation? A white rhino’s horns can average 6kgs in total therefore a rhino in Kruger NP has potentially $120,000 of horn on its head. That rhino cannot surely be safe without a heavily armed security force trying to protect it. I don’t see how a legal trade ends the militarisation of wildlife conservation, rhinos on private farms and reserves will still be protected behind electrified fences that are patrolled by armed guards.

 

If a rhino’s horns can be worth $120,000 there is obviously still plenty of money for criminals to make from acquiring and selling poached horns. Even after you subtracted the cost of hiring the poacher and all the bribes and so on to get the horn to market, you’d still stand to make a good amount of money. Poaching rhinos is a worthwhile enterprise because the margins are still extremely high, while poaching crocs isn't because the margins are too low.

 

Damaraland in the north of Namibia has what they proudly boast is the last truly wild herd of black rhinos in Africa, to clarify what this means these rhinos are living exactly where they have always lived, no rhinos have been brought in from elsewhere and they’re not living in a national park or a formal protected reserve of some other kind. They are essentially living unfenced on communal land, what has to a large extent helped to keep them safe is the remoteness of the area and that they are living in a very sparsely populated arid desert/semi-desert environment. The problem for these animals is that as their numbers grow because they are well monitored and protected, rhinos have to wander off in search of new territories and end up in unsafe areas close to human habitation. The current solution is to capture these rhinos and move them to safer places and use them to repopulate areas where rhinos were hunted to extinction, for example recently 20 black rhinos were released into Namib Naukluft NP. Namibia has the great advantage that so many of these areas are very largely uninhabited or at least the population is very sparse and as I’ve said that helps to keep the rhinos safe, but it’s no guarantee and there will come a point when there’s nowhere left to move rhinos to. Rhinos are creatures of habit following the same trails as they patrol their territories leaving their dung in middens for other rhinos to find, this makes their presence very obvious, even if you haven’t seen the animal itself you know it’s there. Currently if a rhino turns up near your village or town that animal is a very tempting target if you know that its horns are potentially worth thousands of dollars, and a legal trade will guarantee that that remains the case.

 

You can’t fence in the black rhinos in the Serengeti, because obviously fences would get in the way of the wildebeest migration, you can’t fence in the greater one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga in Assam in India because it is part of the Brahmaputra floodplain if it seriously floods the animals will drown. When black rhinos are reintroduced to Zakouma I hope next year they will likewise be free roaming, they also can’t be fenced in because of flooding. These rhinos will be protected by traditional armed rangers I can see no change at all, there at all

 

My concern is that these rhinos and all rhinos that aren't or can’t be adequately protected will remain at risk so long as rhino horn is worth tens of thousands of dollars and this proposed system of trade will guarantee that that remains the case. Arguably these rhinos will be worse off because these are the ones that the criminals will target, my worry is that legalisation will as it were turn vulnerable wild rhino populations in to low hanging fruit as far as the criminals are concerned.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@@inyathi - I am going to need to take a breather before replying in full.

 

I cant help thinking that the best way to talk about this is around a fire with a drink of choice.

 

In the mean time - here is something to think about...

 

Already the "wild rhino" are the easy targets. They are being picked off far worse than those managed by private custodians - Remember that private custodians range from Phinda, Shamwari, Zululand Rhino reserve and many many more. Many of these rhino (most) are completely wild. In fact even the ones in John Humes reserve are completely wild. However - in 2007 private rhino owners spoke for 25% of South Africas rhino, and today they speak for nearly 40%... All this under the trade ban. The trend is clear - rhino under state protection are far more likely to be killed under the trade ban. To make things worse, the Cow calf groups are far easier targets that lone bulls. Cow calf groups, usually huddle together when there is a threat, thus the whole group is killed. Bulls are always weary that other bulls will be approaching and are quicker to make an escape.

 

I still cant see why a legal trade will make that worse. It is my view that it will make it better for a number of reasons. Already state rhino benefit from donor assistance, and military interventions. Under trade the need to poach will be less, as there is already a legitimate source of non-lethal horn available.

 

Various sources claim that rhino horn is worth between $80 000 and $120 000 per kg. This is probably a retail price. Based on that, we expect rhino horn to be sold for around $20 000 (wholesale) which gives the retailer an easy 100% markup to sell it in Asia for $40 000. This price makes rhino farming completely viable, and delivers horn to the market at a far lower price than what the market is currently used to paying. The price should be kept as high as possible to ensure profitability to rhino custodians and good profits for retailers, and low enough to undercut the existing speculators and to incentivise traders to trade honestly.

 

At $20k per kg an average rhino will produce 35kg of horn own a lifetime, and at a cost around $10k per year in protection, a rhino can produce $350k profit in its lifetime. During this time, it also produces other rhino who also produce horn.. SO - the value of rhino will most definitely go up. State parks auction rhino and the single biggest ticket item in their auctions have traditionally been rhino. Just based on the ability to produce horn, rhinos prices should go up more than ten fold. Add the fact that rhinos produce rhinos, and auction prices are set to rise. State parks will benefit.

 

The amount of horn that is being taken by killing rhino, can easily be supplied sustainably indefinitely by dehorning 25% of South Africas rhino regularly and from stockpiles. Rhino populations should double every ten years. Already rhino populations have been stagnant for the last ten years (except for privately kept rhinos)

 

In reversal of your worry that a small fraction of rhinos will suffer from trade, why not ask about the future of the large mass of rhino that are currently in private custodianship under the trade ban. These rhino are most certainly at the largest risk, as its clearly unsustainable for these people to foot the bill indefinitely.

Edited by Bugs
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@inyathi In response to your closing paragraph where you state that

"My concern is that these rhinos and all rhinos that aren't or can’t be adequately protected will remain at risk so long as rhino horn is worth tens of thousands of dollars and this proposed system of trade will guarantee that that remains the case."

Surely if the only rhino horn available to the market is poached (illegal) rhino horn then the price is guaranteed to remain high; both because of a scarcity of supply and the need to reward the risks of obtaining this illegal supply.

 

The availability of a abundant legal supply of rhino horn should not push the price up and may even cause it to come down. I do appreciate that the rhino farmers will want to 'cash in' in their investment and will therefore have an interest in keeping the price high, but with a renewable legal supply the incentive to poach will surely diminish.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@inyathi:

 

You take the view that legal trade in horn will exacerbate the risk though poaching to wild, free ranging, rhinos. You haven't explained why. I can only suppose that you think there is a chance sometime in the future to kill demand entirely. Many would not concur. Under current circumstances, it may be possible to argue that legal trade wouldn't entirely stop poaching, but there is no good reason to suppose that it would increase it. However, one can be fairly sure that lack of a legal outlet for horn will, sooner or later, lead to a reduction in numbers of rhinos in private hands in South Africa.

 

Your concerns over Asian rhino species seem to be a red herring in this discussion. If you wish to safeguard them, would it not be better to take a leaf from the South African book and allow their breeding to be privatised in suitable habitats - rather than zoos?

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@@Bugs

 

It has taken me a while to respond in part because I wasn’t at all happy with much of what I wrote in my last post after my point about crocodile hides and tigers. With the rest of what I wrote I really didn’t explain my position at all well and I made a rather poorly argued point that I’ve made before which didn’t really help the discussion. Not least because my actual point as much as anything is that the case for legalisation is in my view badly explained or rather it is not adequately explained. However I can hardly accuse pro-traders of putting forward a poor argument when that is exactly what I have done, but I can’t go back and edit the second half of that post. I will now attempt to explain my viewpoint rather better.

 

I stand by my point about crocodile hide versus rhino horn in saying that the very high price of rhino horn potentially offers sizeable profits to criminals, whereas the low price of crocodile hide does not.

 

In answer to @Soukous’s point the price of crocodilian hides is determined by the market the price of rhino horn would not be

 

If I’ve understood correctly is the current proposed trade model is based on that used for diamonds which is to keep the price artificially high by restricting the supply. Diamonds had always been rare until the Kimberley diamond rush of the 1870s. As more and more diamonds were taken out of the ground, it became apparent to the British financiers who had invested in the Kimberly mines that the market was being flooded and that diamonds would lose their value entirely and become nothing more than semi-precious stones. Cecil Rhodes and the major investors recognised that the solution was for all of the individual mines to be amalgamated into a single concern so that they would have a monopoly and therefore complete control over the output of diamonds. They could then maintain the fiction that diamonds were rare by ensuring that only small quantities were released to the market, keeping the price artificially high. Thus De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd was founded, in Europe it was known as the CSO or Central Selling Organisation. Diamonds are in a sense the perfect marketing ‘con’, their value is completely unrelated to their abundance and people only buy them because of a clever marketing campaign by De Beers. In 1948 Frances Gerety working for an ad agency employed by De Beers penned the famous slogan “a diamond is forever” one of the most successful advertising slogans ever and went on to create the fiction that there was a tradition of men giving diamond rings to their intended to get engaged, that a woman could not be considered properly engaged unless she had a diamond ring. Prior to this time only the very wealthy bought diamonds, now almost everyone does and they went on to export this fake tradition around the world.

 

The point being that no matter how much the production of diamonds increases the price will not go down to reflect this. What is being proposed in the case of rhino horn is to have a CSO that would have complete control over the horn trade so that all horn would be sold through the CSO, following the De Beers model. It won’t matter therefore how much the private rhino population increases, the price of horn will not go down it would not be in the interests of the rhino owners or the CSO to lower the price.

 

The question is whether this actually matters or not?

 

I said that the very high price of rhino horn potentially offers sizeable profits to the criminals; the important word is potentially, how do we ensure that it does not actually do so? If the criminals are still able to make substantial profits from rhino horn, then the poaching of rhinos will continue at a similar rate to now and vulnerable populations will be no better off or even perhaps worse off. Legalisation of trade does not have to stop poaching altogether because that is unrealistic, but it has to reduce it across the board for all rhinos.

 

This brings me to the nub of my argument, the film and many of the other arguments put forward for trade do not adequately explain how legal horn will push the criminals and their illegal horns out of the market. How it will effectively put the criminals out of business or at least out of the rhino horn business, I’m not actually arguing that it can’t or won’t do this, my issue all along is that it is not well explained. This is really the crucial point of the whole debate, if on the one hand you have people expressing concern that a legal trade could increase demand, and therefore poaching certainly outside of SA and even claiming that it will cause the extinction of rhinos, and then on the other hand you have pro-traders claiming that it will reduce poaching. It needs really to be properly explained as to how it will reduce poaching so that those of us with an open mind can judge which argument is the most credible. The answer to this lies in the consumer countries in Vietnam and its neighbours rather than in Africa. The focus needs to be on what selling legal horn will do in Vietnam.

 

There is a legitimate concern that trade will increase demand and therefore poaching, given that a greater one-horned rhino was poached recently in Nepal it’s perfectly valid to ask if a legal trade in African horns will negatively impact rhinos in Asia. You can only say that Asia’s rhinos are a red herring if the answer to that question is no it will not, if the answer is not only no, but actually it will improve their situation, then you need to properly make that case. The question therefore is most definitely not a red herring. I entirely understand why the film was almost exclusively focused on South Africa, but I think for the future, the argument should focus as much on what will happen elsewhere, to counter the point that I have made many times that trade will only really benefit SA’s rhinos. That it may even benefit SA’s rhinos at the expense of those in other countries. Another point I would add to this is that I presume that the majority of John Hume’s rhinos are white rhinos and that this is true of most privately owned rhinos simply because whites are far easier to keep then blacks. They are much easier to handle and therefore farm than black rhinos, although both presumably need darting before they can be dehorned this I would assume is somewhat easier to do with whites, it is therefore legitimate to ask if legal trade will result in an increase in the population of both species or will it only lead to a significant increase in white rhino numbers. Having said if there's still quite a significant poaching problem, a large and growing population of white rhinos benefits blacks because the whites are easier to poach and if poaching is reduced then wild black rhinos should naturally increase, even if the number on farms doesn't, because farmers would rather breed whites.

 

A large part of my criticism of the film was regarding the focus on the militarisation of conservation, because until you can make a convincing case for exactly how a legal trade will reduce poaching across the board this is a red herring. Maintaining a high price for rhino horn would appear to ensure that there is still an incentive to poach, unless you can demonstrate that legal horn will almost entirely replace illegal horn taking away the incentive to poach. If there’s still an incentive to poach then there will still be a need to employ military force to protect rhinos. This is the heart of the matter whether rhino horn is to be sold for $10,000/kg or $20,000/kg, you need to show that while the horns on a private rhino or on wild rhino that will be de-horned are worth that much to the legal trade, the horns on a black rhino roaming Damaraland that establishes its territory near some settlement will actually in effect be worthless because they can’t be sold. This is a hard argument to get across, but you need to explain that if a poacher kills one of these rhinos or for that matter a farmed one they will struggle to sell the horn because ultimately the criminals in Vietnam will struggle to sell illegal horns. Again the point is that it is what happens in Vietnam that matters, maybe this argument which is all about economics is difficult to make exciting but it is the crucial point.

 

This is what I have said all along that I don’t understand how a legal trade will make it difficult for criminals to sell illegal horns, but as I’ve said I’m not an economist. Knowing how corrupt Vietnam is and China and Laos I find it hard to believe that criminals won't be able to sell illegal horns

 

My view is certainly that in an ideal world zero trade would be better for all rhinos because then there would be no poaching for horns at all, they might still be poached for meat either intentionally or by accident while using snares to target other large animals, but of course I know that this isn’t achievable. The driving force for introducing a legal trade has to be help save all rhino species and not to either raise money for rhino farmers or for conservation. What I mean by that is that the financial benefits must just be a beneficial side effect and not the motivation for introducing trade in the first place. The focus has to be on saving rhinos not on how much money can be made, the money that could be generated for conservation should not become the tail that wags the dog.

 

I have to also say before finishing with rhinos for now that one of the complications with the whole issue is that pro-trade side of the argument has changed over the years, with regard to how a legal trade will work and what its precise aim is. I have been reading various scientific papers as well as general articles on the rhino horn trade and proposed legalisation and the effect it might have. One paper I read from around 2012 discusses the idea put forward by KZN Wildlife to carry out a legalisation trial for a set period of time to try and bring the horn price down by flooding the market. The idea was to run the trial for say 5 years and then measure the results this approach is clearly entirely different to that being proposed now. The problem is it makes it difficult when reading articles and science papers on the rhino horn trade and the possible effects of legalisation to know exactly which trade model is being discussed. Are they talking about a legal trade intended to lower the price as far as possible or one to maintain it as high as possible because the effects in each case could be very different.

 

Here are a few science papers and articles I’ve been reading; this first one does do what I am basically asking the pro-trade side to do, it explains how a legal trade will make it difficult to trade illegal horns.

 

A LEGAL TRADE IN RHINO HORN: HOBSON’S CHOICE

 

As is often the case with the pro-trade side he is very dismissive of the alternative, the alternative to trade is generally characterised as more of the same. I appreciate that more military force in Africa isn’t the answer and I understand why people question whether demand reduction is working because it’s not easy to determine what effect it’s really having. But I wouldn’t call demanding better law enforcement in Asia as more of the same for the reason the law is so lax, often regrettably because government officials in Vietnam or China are themselves involved in the consumption of illegal wildlife products. If the very people who are supposed to be making and enforcing laws to protect wildlife are themselves buying rhino horn or eating pangolin soup what hope is there. Is it more of the same because this will never change? Or can we change things, I appreciate that rhinos are running out of time but there’s more than just rhinos at stake when it comes to illegal wildlife trade. In a positive step a woman in China is facing 10 years in prison after posting photos on social media of various dishes made from wildlife including pangolin; of course she’s not a government official or someone powerful.

 

Pangolin Princess' detained in China after posting images online of cooked wildlife

 

Back to rhino horn

 

South Africa’s rhino horn trade plan a gift to criminals?

 

Debunking the myth that a legal trade will solve the rhino horn crisis: A system dynamics model for market demand

 

Since you brought tigers into the debate I thought I’d add another EIA article.

 

China’s experimental trade in the skins of captive-bred tigers has done nothing to relieve pressure on wild tigers. Quite the opposite, it has perpetuated the desirability of tiger products and kept the poachers in business acquiring cheaper parts and derivatives from the wild.

 

 

 

China’s tiger ‘industry’ remains clearly out of control

 

Doubtless there are other papers on the subject of rhino horn that I could track down and read if I find ones that are relevant then I may post more links.

 

I think the main point to end on with rhinos, is that although it may not seem like it because I have always argued against trade, in truth I am actually pretty much on the fence when it comes to this issue. It is difficult to know who is really right when you have anti-traders arguing that a legal trade will lead to extinction while on the other hand pro-traders argue that not legalising trade will lead to extinction. I really want to better understand the argument put forward in the Hobson’s choice paper to help decide which side of the fence I really should be on.

 

I may add something about elephants but I don’t wish to distract you from your report @@douglaswise

Edited by inyathi
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

there is a suggestion  of some illicit  access to government rhino horn and ivory stockpiles with improper use of diplomatic bag transport

the diplomatic bag goes unchecked 

if true  this is very serious 

please see

 

Spy arrests lift lid on Botswana’s silent trafficking threat

Posted at 07:59h in Botswana poaching links by Oxpeckers Reporters

Botswana has a global reputation for zero tolerance of poaching and wildlife crimes. In recent years, however, it has become vulnerable to insider wildlife crimes committed by rogue security forces. Oscar Nkala investigates

 

http://oxpeckers.org/2017/05/spy-arrests-in-botswana/

 

The Sunday Standard reported that prior to the arrest, the DIS agents had been the subjects of a surveillance operation that indicated they could have been part of a syndicate that smuggled ivory and diamonds from Botswana to the Zambian capital, Lusaka

http://www.sundaystandard.info/dis-agents-caught-tshekedi%E2%80%99s-spider-web

 

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
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   1 member


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