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Will legal trade in renewable rhino horns stop the extinction?

Consumers in Southeast Asia, where the main demand for rhino horns is, may not be content with harvesting horns from captive-bred rhinos as proposed by proponents of a new proposal aimed at stopping poaching

Rhinos in the wild in Africa. Illustration: depositphotos.com
Rhinos in the wild in Africa. Illustration: depositphotos.com

Much has been written and said about the extinction of species in general and the destruction of large animals only because of superstitions and foolish traditions. One of the species that is slaughtered because of those beliefs and traditions are the rhinos.

Beliefs and traditions attribute magical medical properties to the rhinoceros horn, which are unreasonable since the rhinoceros horn is actually hair tissue that has thickened and hardened. The material that makes up the horn is Keratin, the same protein that is a main component of hair and fingernails - also in humans. That's why they have already suggested to the believers to cut their nails instead of causing the destruction of rhinos.

The demand for rhinoceros horns in the markets Asia and especially in Vietnam and China, Bring the rest of the world's rhino population to the brink. If at the beginning of the 20th century there were about half a million rhinos in the world, thenAt the end of 2020, only about 30,000 remained. Only in the last decade were they slaughtered About 10,000 rhinos.

Some have suggested "harvesting" horns from live rhinos, selling them legally and thus satisfying the demand. It will be possible to control the trade by implanting a "tiny chip" that tracks the fund and its products. In return from the trade, it will be possible to finance operations to prevent poachers. However, the idea of ​​giving legal validity to the international trade in horns arouses opposition and heated debate among environmentalists. Opponents claim that trade is legal will remove the stigma associated with the use of the "drug" and thus the demand will increase to a dangerous level.

According to a study in which consumers in Vietnam were asked what their choice would be in purchasing the horns and products, it was found that legal trade would not reduce the parallel black market trade but would reduce it.

On the black market, the price of a kilogram of rhinoceros horn reaches 400,000 dollars, when the most common uses are as traditional medicines, for detoxification, to reduce fever, and of course to increase strength.

Large quantities of horns are purchased by antique dealers and art dealers, since the "goods" are so expensive, the buyers are mainly Old rich people who hate talking about it.

This reluctance prevents researchers from examining the sources of the purchases and poses a challenge to those trying to examine what the impact of legal trading would be.

Most consumers would prefer a legal purchase, but not so the rich don't care what the source of the "goods" is, so if there isn't enough legal "goods" they will buy on the black market. According to the study, consumers are not interested in purchasing rhinoceros horns raised on farms as these are "perceived" like cows or horses (as farm animals). Consumers prefer the horns of wild rhinos because, according to their belief, the horns of rhinos that live in the wild are better for the production of "medicines", this is because the rhinos "eat medicinal plants that grow in the wild".

Therefore, although many consumers will be willing to purchase legal "goods" that originate from "harvesting" horns from rhinos that live on breeding farms, there is a strong preference for purchasing on the black market, a preference that will create competition. The reduction of poaching will depend on the supply of horns from wild rhinoceros or breeding farms, the success of informing consumers, the reduction of demand by emphasizing the stigma and above all the enforcement of the poaching ban and supervision of the supply systems in the markets.

In summary: the properties that are believed to be attributed to rhinoceros horns derive from the uniqueness of the shape of the horn, but more so from the fact that the mating of rhinos takes a long time with many orgasms. When ignoramuses associate the horn with mating, baseless and offensive traditions and beliefs are created. Since, according to all scientific tests, rhinoceros horns have no medical value, it is appropriate to stop hunting. You can go back to the nails.

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