Monday, October 31, 2016

Rhinos in Trouble: A Proposed Market Solution

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

It is widely believed that rhino horn has healing and aphrodisiac value.

The result is that rhinos are under assault from poachers which has led them to to the brink of extinction.  According to Save The Rhino, "At the beginning of the 20th century there were 500,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia. This fell to 70,000 by 1970 and further to just 29,000 in the wild today."
Rhino horn

Rhino horn currently sells for approximately $65,000/kilo. Gold, on the other hand, sells for approximately a measly $40,000/kilo.  Well, maybe not measly but a smaller amount.

So, the question is how can the rhino not only be saved but in some limited sense thrive?

The Continental Court of South Africa is considering a case that offers a market solution. The case was brought by two commercial rhino breeders and if the court decides in their favor it would allow for the domestic sale of rhino horn.

Rhino horn can be removed "painlessly," at least based on what is observed following removal. It grows back so could be a sustainable source of horn.  But is this responsible?  Ethical?  What is the likelihood that it would be successful?

In the end, is it one more step on a path to a "precedent for conservation of all species based solely on their economic utility?" 

The Last Rhinos is a film about this case as well as a provocation to consider what it means to live with wildlife today and in the end, with nature.

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