Extensive rhino ranches are complex wildlife systems, much like a game reserve.
Rhinos may or may not be the primary species on the ranch. The animals will roam freely and though the ranch will also be carefully managed, the objective will be that of enhancing habitat and natural eco-systems. Many species will benefit from this style of ranching.
This is still a 'hands-on' operation and does not subscribe to any principles of minimal interference. This would be disastrous. Today, most forms of game ranch or national reserve management are thoroughly 'hands-on'. In areas as large as the Kruger National Park, this type of management is very difficult and the high levels of poaching in that area is partly due to this fact.
On these ranches, conservation is generally the objective. They are often very involved with the communities that surround them and they generally encourage eco-tourism. These ranches play a major role in increasing habitat for various threatened species. As habitat loss is one of the primary global environmental problems, the benefits of these ranches are undeniably far-reaching.
Some of these ranches de-horn their rhinos and others do not.
We feel that a legalised trade in rhino horn would benefit all of these sectors:
- In large reserves, like the KNP or ranches that rely on tourism as their sole income, they would only have to sell horn that they obtain from rhinos who have died from natural causes. These sales would generate funds for rhino protection in these areas.
- On smaller reserves and ranches, rhinos could be de-horned regularly and income would be generated from sales of these horns.