Legal trade is an innovative and conservation-based solution to the rhino crisis.
More arrests and heavier sentences for offenders have not helped the rhino. The situation in South Africa has degenerated into a war between poachers and authorities. Many of the members of the law enforcement sector have friends and family within the poor, marginalized sector and are therefore sympathetic to the plight of these people. A poaching war is the result of the inadequate and incorrect policies of the country. A rethink is thus extremely necessary – one which will produce an overall win-win situation for the rhinos, the communities and the economy.
Consumer education and awareness campaigns in Asia are very necessary but they will take time and a mass paradigm shift in order to be effective. They have also not helped the rhino to date.
Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) regulations have been in place in South Africa since 2007. They were created to regulate permit systems for ToPS, to register various wildlife facilities, to regulate hunting, to provide for a specific scientific authority, to protect ToPS populations and to prohibit specific activities with these species. They are necessary but should be reviewed and realigned to encourage wildlife breeders instead of discourage them. They have not helped the rhino.
An international trade ban on rhino horn is currently in place. It has not helped the rhino and is, in fact, exacerbating the problem.
Legal trade of rhino horn will satisfy the needs of consumers by supplying a sustainable, ethical product that contributes to community upliftment, biodiversity and habitat restoration while protecting and expanding rhino populations for generations to come.
This is the true nature of conservation – wise use.