In 2015, news was released about the local (South African) government lifting the ban on rhino horn trade – paving the way for legal trade in rhino horn within the borders of South Africa. What will the consequences of this be?
According to the online editions of the IOL News and the Citizen, “The ruling came after an application by two of South Africa’s largest rhino farmers who wanted to overturn government’s moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn”. – www.reuters.com
Wildlife ACT acknowledges that a lot still needs to be decided regarding the practical conditions of rhino horn trade by the ministry. We strongly feel that this first step towards potentially paving the way to ultimate international legalization of rhino horn trade, is a step in the wrong direction.
If one considers the legalization of the ivory trade in the past and the effect that this had on poaching incidences, the model for legalized rhino horn trade is extremely questionable.
There are so many variables that go into the trade of any product that we are playing roulette with a species without having a full understanding of what the ultimate international legalizing of rhino horn trade will have.
Most importantly, even if the trade in rhino horn ultimately becomes viable in the long-term, we have to understand that this trade will only perpetuate the idea that animal products have a medicinal or health value or benefit.
While we may be able to farm and harvest rhino horn, the same cannot (or certainly should not) but done with other species, for example pangolin and tigers, or even vultures, which already have fast-declining numbers. The number of pangolin busts just this year is frightening.
Rhino Horn Trade Requires Changing Beliefs Rather than Laws
What we should rather be focusing on is changing deep-seated beliefs that these animal products have some sort of intrinsic value. We must not underestimate humanity’s ability to overcome unjust beliefs. Consider racism, sexism and slavery as examples, which many believed would never be changed.
We believe humanity should once again rise up to change the status quo and quash beliefs around the use of animal products – especially if it puts the future of any species at risk.