MESSAGE TO ALL ANIMAL LOVERS WHO SUPPORTED AND WALKED A GLOBAL MARCH FOR RHINOS 2015.
My name is Albina Hume. I am Ukrainian author, married to South African private rhino breeder who has been battling rhino poaching crisis on a daily basis for the past 6 years.
I'll speak only for rhinos because we live in South Africa where elephants and lions and the rest of the wildlife are not subject to poaching crisis.
I've been in South Africa for 13 years, being a witness to the rhino reality before and after legal trade in horn was banned from privately owned rhinos.
South Africa had a legal trade in rhino horn from privately owned rhinos from 70's until February 13, 2009 when national legal trade in rhino horn was suddenly banned without explanation.
The result: from the moment trophy hunt from privately owned rhinos was restricted in 2008, not allowing 'green hunt' where rhino stays alive, followed by ban on legal trade in rhino horn in 2009, over 5000 rhinos were poached in South Africa, most of which are from national parks, in comparison to less than 200 poached rhinos in over 30 years. A tragic fact no one can deny!
Hundreds of 'save the rhino' organizations, from all over the world, rushed to South Africa to rescue rhino from extinction, collecting donations from horrified public to help to stop the poaching. But despite all their efforts, (or maybe due to such efforts), more than ever rhinos poached in South Africa in 2015.
Annual Global Marches for rhinos walked around the world demanding to stop the rhino poaching and advocating for banning trade in horn. Yet, are you aware that the rhino in South Africa and the rest of the world is under protection of the national and international law that bans trade in rhino horn? Surely if the ban on trade in rhino horn was successful for rhino survival, you would not need to walk on a Global March?
To help save the rhino it's good first to understand the history of rhino conservation in South Africa. Do you know that before the trade in rhino horn was banned in 1977, (the year I was born!),the world had much more rhinos than South African Republic? What made South Africa, 30+ years later, a world's number one champion in rhino conservation? After all, the rhinos of the world were under the same protection of the international ban on trade in rhino horn as rhinos in South Africa.
The answer lies in the revolutionary step that South Africa made by inviting private sector into a rhino conservation. Such step did allow the national rhino trophy hunting and trade in rhino horn from privately owned rhinos, which not only saved rhinos in the country but also increased the rhino population in both national and private sectors. Private rhino ownership played a vital role in saving rhinos in South Africa, like it or not!
So while the rest of the world, in the past 30+ years, have lost 90% of its rhino population and let two rhino subspecies gone extinct(!),the South African rhinos were not only saved but increased from less than a thousand to over 15000 rhinos! Another fact no one can deny!!!
Going back to my questions: now when you know a little more about bans on trade in rhino horn and how it worked for rhinos, what did you walk for on a Global March:
1. To help keep in place the international law that bans trade in rhino horn since 1977 and only resulted in rhino poaching, where two rhino subspecies gone extinct? Or
2. To help change the international law that failed save the rhinos of the world and now is wiping rhinos in South Africa?
Here's my answer:
1. To save rhinos for future generations we must change the law that no longer serve a conservation purpose but rather a purpose for organized crime.
2. Instead of promoting an open murder of African people who become a rhino poacher, we should address the root of those people' decision to poach a rhino, which is poverty.
3. To eliminate poverty, which would lead to eliminating poaching, we should turn rhino poachers into proud rhino custodians by empowering them with private rhino ownership, where they'll get a right to trade in horn legally, by using method of horn harvesting, where rhino stays alive.
4. Every rhino keeper should have a right to trade in rhino horn, which he produces legally as a renewable product that grows back!
If you take away a right of legal trade from the rhino keeper who produces horn where rhino stays alive, then you'll have bad guys who'll trade in horn illegally by poaching rhinos. Because, you can ban a legal trade, but no one can ban- illegal.
Conclusion: Donations won't save the rhino. Your voice will!
Solution: Change the law- Change the future.
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER.
- Albina Hume, pro-rhino activist and the author of the memoir 'Miss Fortune'.
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