Getting the Point

Dave Killion — June 20, 2011

A recent article in Time magazine has got a lot of people upset over what is actually good news – there appears to be an attempt within China to breed rhinos for the purpose of repeatedly harvesting their horns –

“Harvesting horn from live rhinoceroses is largely unknown territory, although biologists estimate that a rhino’s horn naturally grows around 3.9 in. (10 cm) a year. (Like fingernails or hair, rhino horn regenerates.) In many parts of the world, confining wild animals for their body parts is taboo. But China has a history of harvesting bones from caged tigers and bile from moon bears, all for purported medicinal benefit. Jia, the scientist who has been involved in setting up both of Hawk’s rhino farms, says his research shows that one live rhino can supply 1 kg of powdered horn annually. “Farming rhinos in China for their horns will definitely be allowed eventually,” he says. “It’s just a question of when.”

Unfortunately, opponents continue to support prohibitions against trade in endangered species and their parts, apparently oblivious to the less-than-stellar results such policies have produced over the past decades, and impervious to the lessons imparted by failed prohibitions against trade in drugs and alcohol. The chief concern appears to be that legal trade will only increase demand and hasten the demise of the rhino. Perhaps someone should point out to these ‘conservationists’ that the demand for chicken is pretty strong, but there isn’t much danger we’re going to eat them into extinction. If people can make more money breeding rhinos than poaching them, that’s just what they’re going to do. But don’t take my word for it! Just pop on over to Rhino Economics and get the straight dope from Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes –

“Analysis of the rhino horn market suggests that it shares similar demand characteristics to products such as alcohol and illegal drugs. Bans on such products are unenforceable – they simply result in much higher prices and ensure that all trade is handled by organized crime syndicates. These syndicates typically co-opt corrupt government officials to help them, thereby ensuring that such bans can never succeed.”

Who would have thought we would see the day the Chinese were giving lessons on ecology to the West?

 

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Comments

Ms. Killion says

ew, bones from caged tigers? On the one hand this makes me want to join PETA (*coughs* NOT!) and on the other hand, I kind of want to mash up some egg shells real good and get in to the counterfeit rhino horn powder market!

— June 28, 2011

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