By Rachel Nuwer
In 2009, wildlife managers across Africa began finding hundreds of rhino carcasses with their horns sawed off. Since then, conservationists have struggled to get a handle on the escalating poaching crisis. Rhino horn can fetch a price exceeding its equivalent weight in gold on the Asian blackmarket, and efforts to stop the determined poachers from stripping rhinos of their valuable horns haven’t had much success so far.
Today, Discover argued that “legalizing the trade in rhino horns may be the best way to protect them from poachers.” The thinking goes like this:
Rhino horns can be cut or shaved without injuring the animals, and they grow back.
The increased supply from legal trade would likely bring prices down, reducing the incentive for poachers to continue slaughtering rhinos. [Conservation biologist Duan\ Biggs believes the trade would protect rhinos — a portion of profits could be funneled into continuing to police poachers — and bring jobs to the surrounding areas. And if demand were to keep going up, areas that hold white rhinos could be expanded to grow the population. In the end, a tightly regulated legal horn trade might do the most good.
Now, this is by no means a new idea, nor is it a widely supported one. Officials in South Africa have been arguing the pros and cons of the rhino horn ban for over ten years. Last year, the Cape Times reported on a proposal to lift the 1977 ban in rhino products.
According to the Cape Times, the argument for a monthly, legal rhino horn sale regulated by the government includes: More....