Don’t lis­ten to the rhino brigade

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­

Iremember a beau­ti­ful, black­ish-brown horse in our town­ship that faith­fully drew a load of coal ev­ery day. I al­ways imag­ined that if it were hu­man, it would wear a Stet­son hat like a gen­tle­man.

It was hit by a black Dodge Monaco one night, and both horse and driver died. The horse was slaugh­tered by hordes of res­i­dents, the meat fin­ished in no time, with all that re­mained a rib cage.

In our neigh­bour­hood, High­lands, there was also a crip­pled horse that limped badly, and packs of dogs al­ways ha­rassed her. Her diet was mostly highveld grass, but from time to time you’d see her rum­mag­ing through the dump, chew­ing some of our leftover peels. She bore a beau­ti­ful foal that al­ways stood by her, and gave her a higher pur­pose now that she could no longer pull a coal cart.

One day, I heard that white po­lice­men had shot the horse, which ev­ery­one thought was cru­elty of the worst kind. She had never trou­bled any­one and, if hu­mans are any­thing to go by, it is bet­ter to limp on Earth than be an able-bod­ied spirit in Heaven.

The killing of that horse and the ar­rest of a short lit­tle man with a hunch­back, co­in­ci­den­tally in the same open space where the horse was killed, were the in­ci­dents that wrote in my child­hood mind that hu­man cru­elty knew no bounds.

It was a lunch break, and I saw the lit­tle black man run­ning from the po­lice, his small blazer re­veal­ing a white shirt, his beanie in his right hand – greatly dis­ad­van­taged by his ab­nor­mally short strides.

The whole in­ci­dent was un­fair: A big, bad Bed­ford belch­ing a noise of death came af­ter him with a big po­lice­man stand­ing on the step of the open rear door. He jumped off while the lorry was still in mo­tion. It took only two strides, maybe three, and that was it; the lit­tle guy was un­der his vice.

That’s the prob­lem an­i­mal rights ac­tivists will al­ways face. Their cause will al­ways be eclipsed by some big­ger hu­man cause, but you can­not claim to speak for the wretched of the earth when you can­not speak for a species that can­not speak for it­self.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween hu­mans and an­i­mals, and the whole Earth and its con­tents, will al­ways be a dif­fi­cult one be­cause it is based on eco­nomic ex­ploita­tion. We get our nour­ish­ment from other liv­ing things, whether be they plants or an­i­mals, and some men get their per­for­mance from that too. Who is to say they are wrong?

If you look care­fully, you will re­alise our re­la­tion­ship with na­ture and the laws that gov­ern con­ser­va­tion are a sum of all our re­la­tion­ships with each other as hu­man be­ings, com­plete with our pride and prej­u­dices.

It is per­fectly okay for a West­erner to have a steak when he is on hon­ey­moon, but wrong for an East­erner to ben­e­fit from rhino horn.

South Africa would be best served if we didn’t get in­volved in this cul­tural war­fare, which is hyp­o­crit­i­cal, un­sci­en­tific and sen­ti­men­tal. Our coun­try must quickly de­velop a vi­able and sus­tain­able rhino horn in­dus­try that will help grow our econ­omy and cre­ate em­ploy­ment.

Don’t lis­ten to “Save the Rhino” or­gan­i­sa­tions, be­cause most are noth­ing but par­a­sitic mar­ket­ing groups that live in a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with ig­no­ble cor­po­ra­tions pre­pared to pay a small fee to green-laun­der their ques­tion­able cash. They have the energy to fight, thanks to their full stom­achs and Vi­a­gra.

We are the sons and daugh­ters of the soil; we know all about liv­ing with an­i­mals. Our coun­try has one of the best wildlife man­age­ment sys­tems in the world, if not the best. Let us profit from it, so that, just like the cow, the rhino can live for­ever. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive,

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