Rhinos overview

A Regulated Trade in Rhino Horn

By Mike Eustace

There were said to have been 100.000 rhino in Africa in 1960. That number should have grown to 1.6 million today, at a growth rate of 6% p.a., but poaching has reduced it to less than 25.000, or 1.6% of what it should have been.

About 20.000 of Africa’s 25.000 rhino are in South Africa.

CITES (The Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species) banned international trade in horn 35 years ago but all that the ban achieved was to push the trade underground where it has made money for criminals and not for conservation.

How would a regulated trade work?

South Africa could form one agency to control all the legal trade. The Agency would enter into partnerships with a few Chinese State Pharmaceutical companies and sell marked horn to them from legitimate suppliers such as KZN Wildlife and Sanparks.

The sale would not be an auction but a “sight”. The way a sight works is for a buyer to be invited into a sales-room and be shown a parcel of several horns. He is told the weight and price for the parcel. He has to buy the whole parcel at the offered price or nothing. He knows that the wholesale price, which he is being offered, is half the retail price, so he will probably buy.

Some people caution that if there is a legal trade “there may not be enough rhino to meet the demand for rhino horn”. That argument is spurious because price will always bring demand into balance with supply. The annual supply to the market now is about 400 horns. Demand is brought into balance with supply at a wholesale price of $20.000, per Kg. We can collect 400 horns p.a. from natural deaths alone, i.e. 2% of our population. We also have stocks that would satisfy the current market volumes for 10 years. South Africa could easily supply 800 horns p.a. without having to kill one rhino.

Illegal goods typically sell at a discount of 30% and if the Chinese state is a partner in the legal trade then one can expect them to be more robust at closing down the illegal trade. The prices to the illegal trade will become less and their business risks much higher.

The only way to get horn now is to poach and kill the animal. If there was a legal trade, South Africa would earn R200 million per annum for conservation and in 12 years time that would grow to R400 million, and to R800 million in 24 years. These amounts are at current prices, not inflated prices. We would also have 80.000 rhino in 24 years time, and not fewer than 20.000, which is the current outlook.

The current ban on trade makes little sense. It seems to me that a regulated trade would be a better plan. 
(Source: Mr. Mike Eustace at eustacem@global.co.za)

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Conservation Influencers

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.