Rhino Horn Trade

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  • Rhino horn trade refers to the buying and selling of rhino horns, which has been a significant conservation issue due to its impact on rhino populations worldwide. The international trade in rhino horn has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1977.

Key Points:

  • International Ban: The international commercial trade of rhino horn is banned under CITES. Despite this, illegal trade continues, driven primarily by demand in Asian markets, especially China and Vietnam.
  • Domestic Trade: In some countries, like South Africa, domestic trade of rhino horn is legal following a 2017 court ruling that overturned the previous ban. This legal trade is strictly regulated and intended to support conservation efforts.
  • Demand Drivers: Rhino horn is highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine and as a status symbol. It is also used for making dagger handles in Yemen and Oman.

Conservation Issues:

  • Poaching: Rhino poaching has escalated due to the high value of rhino horns. Poachers use increasingly sophisticated methods to kill rhinos and harvest their horns, often leaving the animals to die.
  • Impact on Rhino Populations: Most rhino species are now endangered, with some populations critically endangered. The illegal horn trade is a primary threat to their survival.

Conservation Efforts:

  • Anti-Poaching Measures: Various strategies are employed to combat poaching, including increased patrols, use of technology like drones, and dehorning rhinos to make them less attractive targets.
  • Legal Trade Proposals: Some conservationists argue for a regulated legal trade in rhino horn as a means to reduce poaching and fund conservation efforts. However, this is a contentious issue with strong arguments on both sides.
  • Horn Poisoning: A method involving infusing rhino horns with a toxin that is safe for rhinos but harmful to humans has been used to deter poaching. The toxin causes nausea and other symptoms if ingested.

Key Reports and Studies:

Economic Perspectives:

  • Economic Drivers: The high value of rhino horn creates a strong incentive for poaching and illegal trade. Economic policies and interventions are crucial to addressing these issues.
  • Legal Trade Debates: Studies explore the potential bio-economic effects of legalizing the trade of rhino horns, weighing the theoretical benefits against practical and ethical concerns.

Additional Information:

  • Rhino horns are composed of keratin, the same material as human hair and nails.
  • There is no scientific evidence supporting the medicinal benefits of rhino horn.

For more detailed information on the rhino horn trade, visit the Save the Rhino International page.

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