Lifting the Ban for Rhinos, following the Ivory Burn

by - May 07, 2016

I have mentioned rhino horn trade several times already on this blog, namely here: Legalise the Rhino Horn Trade and here: Swaziland Propose Lifting the Ban to CITES. I have also written for LRRF about this (see this post). But I realised I have never properly explained on this blog why I support it so strongly. 

Now seems like a perfect time to talk about it, following the Ivory burning in Kenya a few days ago. Lots of people have asked my opinion on this, or asked me why it is happening. Kenya wanted to make a statement: a world without Ivory trade. 

Of course I sympathise with this idealism; a world without Ivory Trade, and rhino horn trade, is the ideal solution to an ever-growing problem. However, it is unsustainable. Burning the ivory has made elephants a bigger target. The poachers are now going to be even more eager for ivory as so much has been lost. 

This burn is a statement against legalising the trade, and although they may have had good intentions, it is not going to help elephants, or rhinos. Lifting the ban in trade seems like ridiculous notion. but it is becoming more and more necessary everyday. People fighting for it need to be listened to and it needs to be given a chance to show people it can work.

IMPORTANT: Lifting the ban on Ivory trade is unfortunately, NOT a solution. You cannot remove elephant tusks without harming the animals, and broken tusks can cause life threatening infections. However, it is certainly a solution for rhinos, and an important one. Hopefully I can explain to you why I think it will work. 

As I have said before, I am on the side of the private rhino owners. I do believe they are the main future for these animals; they know them so well and care so passionately. They also understand the extreme measures needed now for protecting them, how much it is currently costing them, and how unsustainable it is. 

The main reasons I support lifting the ban is that I believe it will actually work. Time is not on our side and so extreme action is needed. Many rhino owners have already de-horned their rhino, to protect them from poachers. Therefore, there are millions of dollars worth of rhino horn stock piled away. If trade was legalised, these could be sold and the owners could afford to protect their rhinos. The money would go back into conserving the species, and so would benefit the animals. 

If the trade was legal, the black market price would come crashing down, and so the dangers and costs associated with poaching would be a lot less desirable. 

Another key reason I support legalising trade is so that rhinos as a species become economically valuable. You can safely remove a rhino's horn without hurting the animals, and especially without brutally murdering them. More funding would go into breeding programmes, to increase the population; the more rhinos, the more rhino horn there is to sell. 

This comes back to the old conservation vs preservation argument, which I wrote about here. A lot of people I have spoken to about this issue think it's wrong, or even cruel to de-horn a rhino. I agree that it is not ideal, and of course I wish it wasn't necessary. But there are very few things more cruel than the inhumane and utterly brutal way rhinos are murdered by poachers. 

This is just a brief explanation as to why I agree with lifting the ban, and I would love to hear what you guys think about it. If you want to read more on this, check out LRRF's blog as there is more detail on how this change can come about, and/or my other previous posts about this (use the LRRF quick-link). I hope I can convince you that lifting the ban will help, and we can together spread this idea and help bring out important change. 


Masai Mara, Kenya 

Two white rhinos, South Africa

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