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Rhino trade conference will see sparks fly!

Are calls to legalise rhino horn trade intensifying the poaching crisis? In the face of a catastrophic 7 000% increase in rhino poaching since 2007, the South African government is preparing to ask the international community to approve the legalisation of rhino-horn trade.


This is one of the most contentious subjects in wildlife conservation today – does trade save species or does it endanger them?

“The government, and some South Africans, believe that by legalising trade and exporting rhino horn to the markets of East Asia, they can not only meet demand and reduce poaching but can also generate resources for rhino protection”, said Allison Thomson, Founder of OSCAP (Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching). “Opponents argue that this controversial strategy could accelerate poaching, pointing to the massive slaughter of elephants that has occurred since China was permitted to buy southern African ivory stocks legally”.

While the issue is frequently debated in the conservation corridors of Washington, Nairobi and Brussels, OSCAP has taken the bold step of bringing the debate to South Africa’s doorstep. On the 8th and 9th April, wildlife trade experts, field biologists, academics, tourism experts, conservationists and economists will gather in Pretoria to lay the issue before the South African people in the court of public opinion. The debate is likely to get pretty intense.

As a prime destination for wildlife tourism, a conservation leader in Africa, and an economic power-house for the continent, what happens to the rhino matters to South Africa and her people. OSCAP is holding this conference in advance of the country’s 2014 general election so that all prospective parliamentary candidates have the opportunity to declare their position on a matter of national and international significance.

“I believe that speculation on a potential future legal trade in rhino horn will increase the threat to our rhinos”, said Thomson. “I hope that this conference, and the public debate that it ignites, will assist policy-makers to end any speculation about legalising rhino horn trade and prompt them to decide against submitting a proposal for trade to the Conference of the Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which South Africa is hosting in 2016. We shall see.

Registration for the conference can be completed at www.oscap.co.za and details of the conference can be found at www.oscapconference.co.za. The organisers anticipate heavy demand for the limited number of tickets that will be available to the public. Prospective attendees are urged to make their reservations now.

Africa Geographic Editorial

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  • tectl

    My question is this… why not a synthetic substitute (after all it is a chemical compound that can be manufactured in powder or tablet form. If you can answer why it would be used in Asia please let me know. TECTL@hotmail.com (idea/concept registered by us)

  • Shirley

    The way to save wild rhinos is to end demand for rhino horn not increase it! It’s a myth that powered rhino horn has powerful medicinal properties and it’s morally wrong to sell a product under false pretences. Anyone wanting to conserve wild rhino should debunk the myth not encourage it! No rhino will ever be safe in the wild again if demand sky-rockets as it is certain to do! Supply will never keep up with demand in the long run. Wild rhino will become extinct because of rhino farming – not saved by it! Rhino are a keystone species in the wild. They are part of the delicate ecosystem in Africa. The white rhino graze the tough grasses so that antelope can feed on fresh shoots that sprout and black rhino are one of the grazers that keep the bush from becoming too dense for big cats to hunt. The seed rich dung of both is rolled into holes by dung beetles giving trees and grasses a boost to grow strongly as soon as it rains. They avoid interbreeding by being agressively territoral. They do not belong on farms for the purpose of supplying a ‘tonic’ to men in Asia. Ever since rhino horn has begun to be stockpilled in SA, the poaching of wild rhino has gone balistic!! What does that teach us! Why? Perhaps there is already blood in the water which is why ‘sharks’ have already appeared.

  • Lidia

    Absolute nonsense! Since when does killing Rhinos, save Rhinos????? What idiots believe this propaganda? Oh yes, THE HUNTERS!!!!!

  • Norman Johnston

    The answer is so simple but we as humans are too stupid to see it. Respect elephants and rhinos and all other targeted species as part of our world. They are not ours to kill to make trinkets out of. I am thoroughly disgusted and appalled at how the South African government treats their precious and endangered animals. To allow ‘legal’ hunting will change nothing. It is a war against the animals and should be treated as such. Every possible way to fight their enemies should be employed until these hunting bastards are either killed on site, no jury, no time to pay someone off, or jailed for so long they forget what it’s like to see the sun. This has to stop before it’s too late but no one seems willing to do what’s necessary. China plays a huge part in this problem and again no one seems willing to bring it to their front doorstep and demand real change. I hope sometime soon this will all be part of our horrible history.

  • ken watkins

    ken watkins

  • ken watkins

    It seems it is not just the Chinese that need educating.
    The quality of the knowledge of the previous posters is remarkably thin.
    Farming Rhino does not involve killing them, the horn can be removed easily without any harm coming to the Rhino.
    Rhino Horn has a proven medical benefit, just do not believe WWF and all the other perpetrators of lies.
    Albeit its uses are limited to reducing fever something that could easily be done by “normal” drugs.
    Unfortunately Rhino Horn has become increasingly “trendy” amongst the nouveau riche in Asia.
    A legal supply is the only way forward.
    Which of you complained at the vast elimination of the Vietnamese Rhino thanks to saturation bombing and Agent Orange by the US forces fighting yet another loosing war?

    • Jurjen

      If you believe that you also believe in fairy tails. Question : if you have a fever you bite your fingernails and eat your hair? That’s the same thing.

  • Ann Reilly

    Oh my word – what a wonderful photo!!!

    • A_Makena

      double that. the lil one makes tha day seem alright.

  • Willem Frost

    Can’t see much good come out of this conference, which will appeal only to a certain group of animal rights activists who do not understand conservation in the 21st century. It is already evident from the silly comments on this blog. For example, where does the idea come from that the SA government’s proposal to CITES is based on killed rhinos? We can probably expect a lot of similar distortions of the truth before, during and after the conference. Also expect a lot of anti-hunting tirades (some already posted on this blog) by ignorant bunny-huggers who have nothing constructive to contribute.
    Whether this conference will tolerate healthy debate and different points of view, remains to be seen. It will most probably be just one way traffic with the conference concluding that we must pursue the current rhino protection strategy that has clearly failed. Wonder if the rhino owners will get an opportunity to put their views forward? Or is it another case of those with no investment in any wildlife wanting to enforce their arrogant views on the rest of us?
    Will be watching the space, but will not bother to attend.

  • Elizabeth Dallmann

    What makes economists think legalizing trade will stop the slaughter? Dealers are not going to buy at a higher price and poachers are so desperate for an income that they will kill for less and less.
    aggresive education and ridicule of users as well as more severe punishments for poachers and dealers is the way to go.
    Providing meaningful employ to the needy is also a way. What about a reward equivalent or more than their poaching income to provide information which will lead to arrests and conviction of perpetrators or to prevent a potential poaching incident.

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