6. WOULD CONSUMERS BE ATTRACTED TO A LEGAL AVENUE FOR ACQUIRING HORN?

If a legal trade were introduced, would it draw consumers away from the current and only way of buying horn; that is, on the black market?

NO TRADE

Any assumption that legally procured horn would be preferred is open to question. 

Even if a legal trade in horn were introduced, it is more likely that legal and illegal markets would coexist and interact in complex, unpredictable ways. 

Legal and illegal horn products would, therefore, probably not be perfectly competitive and substitutable. The abalone trade provides a good example of this: in South Africa there is a substantial export trade in legally farmed abalone product, yet between 2000 and 2016, an average of 2,174 tonnes (2,396 tons) were poached annually at a cost to the national economy of nearly US$43 million a year.

PRO TRADE

Currently, all traded rhino horn is illegally procured and illegally sold; therefore, all consumers of horn can only obtain it from black marketeers. (Though hardly enforced, the penal code of Vietnam, for example, prohibits the illegal trade and use of rhino horn.)

Furthermore, all horn currently traded has caused the death of a rhino, whereas in a legal trade scenario, any horn purchased would have been harvested by dehorning a live rhino.

 These circumstances, together with a competitive price for legal horn, are likely to draw customers away from the contraband market and into the legal sector, which would guarantee the provenance and authenticity of the product. Furthermore, a lower market price would lead to lower profits for criminals and a subsequent reduction in poaching.

Logically, therefore, the greater the number of customers that purchase horn legally, the fewer the number of rhinos that will be killed illegally for any given level of demand.