Who will gain from rhino horn sale?
THE HOPE of Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa to obtain international approval for a “one-off ” sale of the stockpiled rhino horns is aimed, says her department, at destroying the booming trade of horn on the black market.
South Africa has 18 tons of stockpiled horn, 16 in government hands and two in private hands. The black market price for rhino horn is roughly $16 000/kg (R160 000/kg), making the value of our stockpile R10 billion.
Judging from the generally positive response from the public, it looks as if the pro-trade lobby is gaining ground. But we need to be vigilant, because this approach is not as philanthropic to rhinos as it appears.
Should the sale go ahead, there are two niggling questions. First, to whom are we going to sell the horn? Not the illegal traders, I hope. Chinese businessmen? The Chinese government? What about the Vietnamese? Someone in Asia is set to make a huge financial gain, and how will they distribute the horn and to whom? There is no open market, so it will be interesting to find out – if we can – where all that horn goes. And don’t these questions need to be addressed before we can seek approval for the sale?
Second, and this question is a little more disquieting, who is set to gain in South Africa by such a sale?
The government says the money from the sale should go to conservation. Now is that not as ambiguous as it gets? And this from a government that is notorious for corruption and misspending public funds.
Who or what in conservation is going to benefit? Is it SANParks? If so, will the funds be used to combat further rhino poaching or are they just to line the pockets of the bigwigs?
Furthermore, those private indi- viduals sitting on their collection of rhino horn are almost certainly set to make a huge, personal, financial gain.
It’s also noticeable that they are making the loudest noise in the protrade lobby. I can’t see these “farmers” being altruistic enough to send the sale money to the preservation of the species. Something about their clamouring to lift the ban smacks of the canned lion plague and I won’t be surprised if they are soon swopping their Hiluxes for Range Rovers.
Call this a conspiracy theory – and hopefully it’s just that – but I think we as the public need to watch this space very closely because we all know it is not beyond our politicians and socalled “conservationists” to get their grubby paws muddied in this macabre but most lucrative of trades.