Given that rhino horn keratin is more valuable than gold on the black market, there is controversy arising as to whether or not the trade of rhino horn should be made legal.
The war against poachers is a losing one
The poachers are hard and often dangerous to fight against. Most of them are part of an international crime syndicate and are given use of night goggles and military assault rifles.
Currently, Vietnam is the main importing country while Mozambique is the major transit country for rhino trafficking. At Kruger, the poachers move quickly to kill, cut off the horn, and then smuggle the trophy across the border using routes that also bring in drugs from Southeast Asia.
According to Johan Jooste, a retired army major general tasked with militarizing Kruger's park rangers,
"We are fighting a counter-insurgency now. The war is escalating. It is more aggressive and there is more firepower," source
CITES is demanding that Vietnam as well as Mozambique must prove that they can and will fight against horn trafficking from southern Africa. Otherwise, stricter controls will be imposed.
But are imposed sanctions enough to solve the escalating problem?
Since there is a way to cut off a rhino's horn without harming the animal and since rhinos can regrow their horns, much like we can regrow hair and nails, making their trade legal is a humane possibility. Also, it would greatly reduce the attraction of illegally obtaining the horns and that alone should have a positive impact on saving the species.
South African biologist Duan Biggs together with three other scientists, wrote in the journal “Science,”
“We have a buffer of a very healthy population of rhinos to work with. If we wait longer and the current situation continues, we will lose the opportunity to try an alternative strategy.”
Some organizations such as the WWF oppose the legalization of the rhino horn trade because mass production to meet mass demand would then occur. Greater poaching would result if horns are openly on the market in large quantities and at cheaper prices.
”A change from the elite-trend to mass-trend will be like lighting a fire that will be difficult to extinguish,” said WWF spokeswoman Sylvia Ratzlaff. source
Of course, nobody said horns have to be cheap. Less expensive than now maybe, but not cheap. Those who can afford to buy the horns now would still be able to buy them legally instead of illegally. Those who can't afford them now may or may not be able to afford them legally, but they aren't suddenly going to pay to get them illegally.
Sounds to this examiner like legalization is worth a try, and it can always be reversed if greater problems really did occur.
Demand won't disappear but rhinos will, click here.