By Theo van Niekerk
After I have read Micheal Lorentz articles of December 11 and October 24 ON Rhinos, instead of commenting on those articles I'll publish my thouhgts as a small bussiness owner and maybe get more conversation on this problem.
I can remember as students of the University of the Orange Free State we had huge banners up at rugby games in 1980, SAVE THE RHINO!! At that point all the poaching happened in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and other Africa countries. But it was only a few years later in the 80’s (also students) had banners up, “FUCK the RHINO, SAVE the FARMERS”? How many productive farms have been converted to Game Farms since 1995 because it is not economical to farm with stock any more. Why? Because poverty is driving people to steel to survive. You see poverty has finally reached South Africa too.
In Africa where there is huge poverty and unemployment (47% in South Africa) and on the other hand you have skilful and rich people with recourses. Then three things come into play, SURVIVAL of the poor, GREEDINESS of the rich and OPPORTUNITY for illegal trade.
Whenever you make anything illegal and money can be made, it will go underground and a huge amount of money change hands. You can go back many years in the history and it repeats itself, alcohol cigarettes, weapons, fuel, diamonds, gold and now ivory and rhino horn. When you make it illegal it goes underground and gangsters (mafia) take control.
Greediness will drive people to get hold of rhino horn and ivory to sell, because there is so much money to be made and the poor will make them selfs available to do the dirty job to get a small portion of that pot of gold to survive.
There will always be a market if there are users of that product. Chinese people has been using rhino horn and ivory for chopsticks for many years but it was always the middle and rich class who were able to afford it. With China waking up as an economic country the middle class is growing so fast and they can afford to buy those items. For them it is a symbol of wealth to have ivory chopsticks and not wooden or plastic ones. Probably the same as us, wood, stainless steel then silver cutlery. They reckon that the middle class is growing so fast in China that if they use all the ivory that are in stockpiles and kill all the elephants and use their ivory it will not be enough the feed the chopstick market at this point in time!!! More....