By Tony Carnie
The government has baulked at the massive cost of dehorning up to 10 000 rhinos to slow down the rate of poaching – but is looking into a separate plan to trade rhino horn on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It has also emerged that South Africa may apply for special permission to hold two rhino horn auctions within the next year, instead of waiting another three years for the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
Earlier this week, the Department of Environmental Affairs released the recommendations of the Rhino Issues Management (RIM) report which calls for the immediate dehorning of thousands of rhino in national parks.
Written by former SA National Parks chief executive Mavuso Msimang, the report argues that dehorning large numbers of rhino would demonstrate South Africa’s international commitment to preserving the species from possible extinction due to the increase in rhino poaching over the past five years.
Msimang noted that de-horning would be “extremely costly” and would have to be repeated every two to three years, as horns regrew at the rate of about 5cm every year.
“To dehorn 10 000 rhino at a rate of eight rhino per day will take approximately 1 000 days (almost three years) and cost in the region of R84 million,” says the report, noting that it costs about R8 000 to dehorn each rhino, to take DNA samples and insert microchips into the horn.
Despite record poaching levels, South Africa still has about 19 000 white rhino and 2 000 black rhino (which together account for nearly 75 percent of the global rhino population or 83 percent of the African rhino population). More....