Actual Conservationists Are United in Support of Legal Trade in Horns
Amongst qualified and experienced scientists & conservationists, there is no debate. Trade is universally recognized as urgently needed to save these animals from extinction.
South Africa is a global conservation success story. This land has better biodiversity today than at any point In the last 150 years. We have twenty times more wild animals today than we had just 50 years ago. And we have restored literally millions of hectares to a wild state, after decades of using them for agriculture. That we have achieved this while the rest of the world has devastated its own wildlife and environment makes it all the more astonishing. Such success demands study, so that we might spread the lessons of such triumphs far and wide, and so that we can protect against changes in policy that might reverse our achievements.
South Africa’s success is the direct result of world-leading economic policies that gave private individuals good reasons to re-wild their land and reintroduce wild species. And it is the direct result of the hard work and commitment of the scientists and conservationists that drove those policies and committed their lives to protecting, breeding, and reintroducing the species that most needed help.
Those giants of conservation and science are today, absolutely united in their support of the legal trade in rhino horn.
The South African Biodiversity Institute consists of scientists who advise the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the scientific facts of conservation. They are the official CITES Scientific Authority in South Africa, and are responsible for determining whether trade would be detrimental or beneficial. They investigated the issue of rhino horn trade and, in July 2018, issued their findings that such trade would aid in the conservation of the rhino.
The team of scientists and rangers that pioneered rhino conservation at the Natal Parks Board in the 1960’s and grew the population of white rhino from roughly 300 to a high of 25,000 has looked at the role of private reserves and the question of legal trade in rhino horn, and has been desperately fighting to see such trade established before it is too late.
The zoologists and ecologists at Kruger who have considered the potential impact on rhino in SanParks if legal trade is established have determined that the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and have come out clearly in favour of trade
Our colleagues in SADC – Presidents and Ministers – have loudly proclaimed their view that trade in rhino horn must begin immediately, both to save the animals and to invest in a better future for Africans.
Even prior South African Ministerial panels on this issue have concluded that trade should be implemented.
Across the board, those conservationists with relevant scientific insight, or actual experience, have been clear that trade must be implemented urgently.
And yet the perception continues amongst some that the question of trade remains unsettled - a misperception that is largely driven by NGOs whose revenue stream is dependent upon creating a sense of urgency and then falsely taking credit for fixing the problem. The steady stream of opposition articles they publish creates the perception of legitimate opposition to trade, even where none exists. But mere opinion, no matter how fiercely held, must bow to science and experience.
When considering this vital issue, we must follow the lead of those who have invested their time in actual conservation, and who know what they are talking about. We must differentiate between those who participate in this discussion for entertainment purposes, and those who can provide the honest facts upon which informed decisions deserve to be based.
The fate of our rhino depends upon the quality of the information used in making decisions. We must not fail that test.
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