Reasons for legalising the rhino horn trade

A view of a rhino and its calf.

John Hume is convinced that unless the rhino gets horn trade legalization, this magnificent animal will go extinct.


John Hume is a game farmer in the Malalane area, south of the Kruger National Park (KNP). He is an ardent proponent for the legalisation of the trade in rhino horn.

"My passion is breeding rhinos and from 1 March 2011 to 29 February 2012, I bred 116 rhinos. Of these, 111 are white and five are black rhino. As of today, I have 762 rhino of which 30 are black. I have enough money to continue my passion for the rest of my life. My financial advisors advise me to hold on to all my rhino horn stockpiles but this would be disastrous for the rhinos. I do not need rhino horn trade legalization but the rhinos certainly do. I am convinced that unless the rhino gets horn trade legalization, this magnificent animal will go extinct."

"These are seven reasons he proposes for legalising the rhino horn trade"

1.Legal trade will give the consumer the option of buying the product from a legal, ethical, controlled source

  • This will play a role in hindering the black market
  • There will be no need for rhinos to be killed (legally or illegally) to provide the product
  • Rhinos will be worth more alive than dead

2. Legal trade will increase rhino numbers

  • Rhinos will once again become desirable wildlife on game farms and reserves due to the financial benefits
  • Legal trade will allow for the means to protect rhino on these farms and reserves
  • New and emergent farmers will be encouraged to breed rhino
  • If all these people are breeding rhinos, the numbers will obviously increase

3. Legal trade will alleviate poverty

  • At present, communities are turning to poaching as it is a lucrative prospect. For every poacher that gets arrested, there are 100 more people willing to take their place.
  • If communities were taught and encouraged to breed rhino for regular horn sales, poaching incidents would drop dramatically. These communities would protect their livelihood with their lives.
  • Community-based natural resource management is a successful working concept in many third-world and developing countries. It is time for South Africa to get on board.

4. Legal trade will encourage biodiversity by creating habitat

  • Habitat loss and encroachment are major global issues for biodiversity.
  • Rhinos require a certain habitat to survive
  • This habitat will encourage all rhino owners and communities to create this habitat, leading to healthier ecosystems for many plant and animal species.

5. Legal trade is an innovative and conservation-based solution to the rhino crisis

More arrests and heavier sentences for offenders have not helped the rhino. Consumer education and awareness campaigns are extremely necessary, but they take time and a mass paradigm shift in order to be effective. They have not helped the rhino. Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) regulations have been in place since 2007. They have not helped the rhino. An international trade ban on rhino horn is currently in place. It has not helped the rhino. Legal trade in rhino horn will satisfy the needs of consumers by supplying a sustainable, ethical product that contributes to biodiversity and habitat restoration, as well as preserving the rhino. This is the true nature of conservation.

6. Legal trade will not threaten rhinos

  • Rhino horn can be harvested sustainably ? no rhinos ever have to die to provide it and it continues to grow throughout the animal?s life.
  • Tiger bones, elephant tusks, shark fins and numerous other wildlife products require and represent the death of an animal whereas rhino horn does not.
  • People who own rhino will probably never want to kill their rhino, even in hunts, as live rhinos will be worth more than dead rhinos.

7. Legal trade will allow us to keep rhinos in Africa, where they belong

  • Rhinos offer an economic benefit to the country and its population
  • Africa?s rhinos to the North of us have been decimated, but in South Africa we still have a chance to convince Africans that rhino are more valuable alive than dead.
  • Keeping rhinos in Africa will give us tighter control over the trade, ensuring that it is monitored and audited and that rhinos are bred under the best possible conditions.



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