The Rhino War – International Demand or Local Opportunism?
It would seem from recent arrests in South Africa that ‘The War on Rhino Poaching’ has moved into a more dangerous and uncontrollable phase. More and more it would seem every ‘chancer’ in the book thinks they can make a quick buck by killing a rhino, taking the horn and then trying to sell it into the marketplace.
The general belief is that the demand is being driven from the outside i.e. Yemen, Vietnam and China. In terms of traditional usage and customary beliefs this is correct. The rhino market is relatively well defined and understood, if we are to accept the document/article posted on Facebook by Kevin Leo-Smith and written by Conservation Economist Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, and understood. Click here to download the article in PDF format.
The big question we need to ask and answer is ‘what is driving the demand so high, so quickly’. I would like to suggest something more sinister and opportunistic. Poaching for sale to traditional markets has historically been the major cause of rhino losses, with the majority of losses in National or Provincial Parks, and I would suggest this is still the case today.
This past year however, we have seen a major shift toward the killing/poaching of rhino within privately owned Game Reserves/ Game Farms / Nature Reserves / Wildlife Estates and Hunting Farms etc. To date those caught have been an assortment of Vets, Farmers, Private landowners and a few poachers. The authorities will no doubt have more detailed information on the modus operandi of the Rhino Trade and where the horns are being sold. They would also be aware of ulterior motives, those other than simply feeding the traditional rhino trade.
I would suggest that the increase in rhino deaths is due to a combination of factors but all related to the downturn in International Financial Markets which have had an impact on a number of industries including Tourism, Hunting, Farming etc. The increased killing of Rhino is being driven from within our own country by our own people, those primarily responsible for looking after them. By opportunists who assume they can get some financial benefit from killing a rhino. I doubt many of these horns have ‘buyers’, as evidenced in the recent arrest in Durban of someone trying to find a buyer for a rhino horn he had. By Insurance scammers and property owners looking for a quick buck, especially with traditional revenue streams not as reliable as before.
In the same way crime under the Mafia was Organised Crime, now Disorganised Crime.
Yes, more sinister, more dangerous, more uncontrollable, more opportunistic.
Read the article in PDF format.