Biodiversity Connections

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From The Spectator: Rhinos Are Being Wiped Out For the Sake of Fairytales

A great article by Simon Barnes about targeting the underlying problem with rhino demand - the belief that rhino horn cures a range of illnesses - and that new technology is not going to be the solution.

"Rhino-poaching for the Chinese medicine trade has been going on for years. The black rhino went nationally extinct in Zambia in the 1980s, though there’s now an excellent reintroduction programme. The trade in African rhinos has been increasing, not least because there are now many Chinese people working in Africa. Supply lines have been radically shortened, while the increasing prosperity in China put rhino horn within many more people’s range.

But now there is a further problem and it’s Vietnam. The place has gone nuts. Suddenly the country is full of wealthy middle-aged men and many of them require rhino horn to convince themselves that they’ve arrived. They use rhino horn to treat cancer; it’s also used to treat the after-effects of a night out. You can spend vast sums of money on a banquet and even more on your hangover: and the whole process shows just how far you’ve come in life. All this has led to the demented spike in rhino-poaching. This has been followed by complex and sometimes curious efforts to stop it — or at least cash in before they’ve all gone."

According to a 2013 TRAFFIC factsheet on Rhino consumers, the main users of rhino horn tend to be men over the age of 40.

"Buyers and users of rhino horn form a powerful social network consisting of important individuals with whom it is crucial to maintain good relationships."

Something to keep in mind in developing approaches to reducing consumer demand in Vietnam.

Javan rhino in a stream in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia / ©: 2015 Stephen Belcher Photography All Rights Reserved



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