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Rhinos: economics, trade and politics




Sas-Rolfes, Michael 't, author
International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, publisher

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At the forthcoming CITES Conference of Parties the future of trade in several key species – rhinos, elephants and lions – will be bitterly contested. Swaziland's proposal to establish a legal trade in rhino horn will most likely be rejected, primarily for political reasons. Despite an apparent 'success' period of a decade from the mid-1990s, the CITES trade ban on rhino horn has mostly been a conservation failure since it was first established in the 1970s. The resurgence of poaching over the last decade presents a serious threat to wildlife ranchers and state parks agencies alike. Whereas some might regard the high value of rhino horn as an opportunity for wildlife ranching and the development of new community-based enterprises, various NGOs and governments only see it as a threat. Accordingly, their focus is on increased law enforcement supported by so-called demand reduction campaigns and they reject the notion of legal rhino horn trade as a possible solution. Why is this so and what are the implications for the wildlife ranching industry? My presentation will consider these questions by outlining both the economic and political factors at play. After explaining the motivations of legal trade opponents, I will outline the hurdles that the wildlife ranching industry must overcome, not only to ensure the future of rhinos, but to ensure the future of the wildlife ranching industry as a whole, which is now under threat from the current public mood and international policies that increasingly favour preservation and prohibition over sustainable use and trade.


Presented at the 9th international wildlife ranching symposium: wildlife - the key to prosperity for rural communities, held on 12-16 September 2016 at Hotel Safari & the Safari Court, Windhoek, Namibia.

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