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70% of the financial benefit of trade – 800 billion Rands – would be for the benefit of Black South Africans.  And saving our natural heritage was an African value long before Europeans realized the damage they were doing.

The Right to Trade is Equally Important to Africans of All Races

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As explained elsewhere on this site, our nation’s top economists have calculated that the trade in rhino horn contemplated herein, will generate roughly a trillion Rands for the South African economy (an amount that will grow if the Rand continues its slide against the dollar).  Roughly 70% of that would go directly to our government, both because the nation owns a significant number of rhino and the vast bulk of the horn in storage, and because the state would receive 45% of the money earned by private reserves due to taxation.


This is money – some R800 billion Rands over five years – that can, and we trust will, be spent on hospitals, schools, housing, electrification and countless other shortages that our country desperately needs to address.  This money should, and will, be spent to benefit the neediest of South Africans.  How can anyone fail to see the importance of this income for the millions of underprivileged South Africans who deserve the help this can facilitate?  Now, as we pay the terrible economic price Covid-19 demands, how can anyone turn their backs on the chance to spare our nation from the worst effects of this financial disaster? When the income comes pre-packaged with saving our rhino from extinction, how is it possible that this is still a subject of discussion instead of action?

Over and above the quantities of cash that will naturally flow to government, many of the biggest rhino reserves have committed themselves to sharing the benefits of trade with their communities.  The author of this site has already committed 10% of his post-tax profits on the sale of rhino horn from his reserve to a well-known public foundation, to be spent on education and poverty alleviation for South Africa’s poorest communities, and another 10% of all up-front revenues to a foundation established to help the poor of one particular province.  And he is in discussions with other organizations to commit up to 50% of any future profits to similar causes.  He is not alone.  Other private reserve owners have made similar commitments and are in similar discussions.


As I write this, I am painfully aware of the risks one assumes when attempting to characterize a culture that is not one’s own, and these risks are particularly acute for me, as I am neither an anthropologist nor an ethnologist.  Thus, I wish to apologise up-front if I misstep while walking this delicate line.  Having said that, I believe that conservation of the natural environment was not as much of a ‘cause’ for native South Africans as it has become for Europeans because it was a way of life for South Africans long before the colonial powers appeared on the scene.  If ‘conservation’ is a white man’s issue, it is only because it is our culture that caused the damage in the first place, and because our subsequent economic and political policies placed non-white populations at such a disadvantage that they, somewhat understandably, now maintain a higher focus on leveling the economic playing field than on fixing problems that are of our making.  But let’s not make the condescending mistake of assuming that black South African people and communities are indifferent to the need to save our joint natural heritage.

South Africans of colour play leadership roles in the wildlife conservation arena, and it is insulting to ignore their achievements.  President Ramaphosa is one of the most respected wildlife farmers in southern Africa.  Dr. Mathews Phosa is another.  Businessman Tebogo Mogashoa was the President of Wildlife Ranchers of South Africa. All are committed to saving the rhino.   It is doubtful that these men, and the thousands of other Black, Coloured, and Asian South Africans who have bravely fought to conserve our shared natural heritage, would dismiss their passion as a ‘white man’s issue.’


It is similarly unlikely that the poor of this country would want bureaucrats to block trade that will provide R800 billion to be spent on uplifting our most underserved communities.

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