CITES CoP17 Fails to Legalise the Rhino Horn Trade08:19:00
The CITES conference failed to legalise the rhino horn trade. If you've read any of my previous posts on this issue (link here) then you'll know that I fully support legalising the trade, and really hoped CITES would vote in favour of Swaziland's proposal.
However, they didn't. Is this really surprising? Not really. This decision was placed into the hands of people who don't understand the issue; preservationists and NGOs who profit from the plight of rhinos.
Countries/ Organisations such as the US and EU said a legal trade would reverse the work done to reduce the demand for rhino horn. This is ludicrous to me. It breaks my heart that these countries were listened to over Swaziland and South Africa, who are the ones actually protecting the rhino and the homes of the rhino. NGOs were listened to over the private owners. Most (not all, but most) rhino range countries supported Swaziland's proposal, yet the countries where rhinos are not living seemed to win. It seems ridiculous, doesn't it? Why do these countries think they know best? Why must they intervene on something they do not understand? Why would you ignore the experts?????
Manager of the WWF's South African rhino programme, Dr Jo Shaw, said "What we need now is firm action by CITES and all concerned to address poaching, trafficking and consumption of rhino horn." These are empty words until we see actions. This is exactly what should have been happening since the ban on trade began in 1977, so why are rhinos being killed at a rate of 3 a day? We need a change. How can they not see that!
The idea that legal trade goes against education is laughable. Leaving trade illegal gives the monopoly on trade to criminals. However, it also gives these same criminals the control of the supply, price and most importantly, the information. Legal trade means rhino horn products would be sold on the high street, manufactured and packaged legally. This means people will know exactly what they are buying. When you buy something on the black market, you are trusting people who are essentially just criminals that it is what they say it is, when they have every reason to lie to you. A legal trade goes hand in hand with increased awareness and education. Tell people when they buy paracetamol with rhino horn extract in it that there is absolutely no scientific evidence that rhino horn has medicinal value. Tell people that when they buy an expensive rhino horn ornament, they are essentially buying matted hair thats been sculpted, and is practically worthless. Decreasing the demand will be so much quicker and easier under a legal trade.
I've said this so many times, and I'm going to keep saying it until people listen: There is no ONE solution to save the rhino. What we are trying to do with a legal trade is save the rhino from extinction. It is also going to have strong regulations and conditions. Legal trade is not the end; it's the beginning of a long road to save this species.
This vote is not the end either. We do not own this planet, and we never will. This vote is just motivation to keep fighting.
This post is dedicated to a rhino I knew called Charlie. She spent her whole life fighting, even though the odds were always stacked against her. She just wanted to live.
Save the rhino, not it's horn.