3. COULD REVENUES FROM LEGAL SALES GO A LONG WAY TOWARDS FUNDING RHINO PROTECTION & CONSERVATION?

Could the money made from legal horn sales help to finance a large part of the cost of rhino security? Two papers presented to the South African minister for environmental affairs state that some US$40 billion could flow into the economy from a legal market—two thirds of it into government coffers.

Photo credit: Shannon Wild

NO TRADE

The revenue potentially available for improved security from legal sales is impressive, but there is no guarantee that it would be properly applied given the pervasive and endemic corruption in rhino range states and other countries engaged in trafficking. This circumstance cannot be wished away as the revenues are just too big not to present a considerable temptation.

And it is not just overt corruption that is a danger. Who could guarantee that the revenues would not be absorbed into general government coffers, to be used not for wildlife but for other portfolios desperate for funds?

PRO TRADE

Currently, rhino owners are bearing the full, and unsustainable, cost of rhino protection without any recompense – the only financial beneficiaries of rhino horn sales are the poaching and smuggling syndicates. 

If rhino horn stockpiles alone were fed into a legal market, the resultant income would go a long way towards providing improved protection for wild rhinos. Add to that  the sustainable annual revenue from horn harvested from living rhino, and even more money would be available for rhino conservation.

By removing the high costs and security risks currently associated with maintaining stockpiles, a further substantial saving would accrue to the stockpile owners. This saving, too, would release funds into the security of living, wild rhinos.