7. WOULD SMUGGLERS ACCEPT A REGULATED LEGAL MARKET FOR RHINO HORN?

If a legal trade in rhino horn was to be introduced, would the crime syndicates be likely to accept the new regime and to adapt accordingly?

Photo credit: Mail & Guardian

NO TRADE

Traffickers are ruthless and the top syndicates operate across wildlife trafficking and other environmental crime sectors, as well as drugs, arms dealing and human trafficking. They don’t have a habit of backing down in the face of competition.

They might react passively by reducing their investment in a less profitable black market for horn, or even dropping it altogether. But, and possibly more likely, they might respond aggressively by actually increasing their illegal supplies. This could be achieved by offering poachers a greater financial incentive to face the risks involved. If the crime rings were to accept lower margins but push out a greater supply, they could maintain their overall profit levels.

PRO TRADE

It is likely that the current, illegal traders in rhino horn would passively accept a new regime of a legal market. This does not mean that illegal trade would be completely eliminated, but it would reduce. 

Crime syndicates would most likely respond by adjusting the quantity they supply. In other words, they would curb poaching activities and continue to supply a smaller amount of horn, thereby maintaining some level of profit.