When I have discussed this preference for wild horn with individuals working with some of the large conservation organisations I was told that an opinion on an trade legalisation is not within their mandate, so they don’t comment. Surely, what is right for the animal should be the priority, not the scope of an organisations mandate?
January 2017: Is Mainstream Media Contributing To The Rhinos Demise? From the blog: Of the 40 news articles I read, just one made mention of the user’s preference for a wild product over a farmed horn. The reality is, a fundamental question appears to have been forgotten! How is the media missing this?
Even though the pro-trade groups have had a lot of ‘help’ from the mainstream media, given the right question hasn’t been asked, they were still not able to tip the CoP 17 rhino horn trade outcomes in their favour. So you have to ask ‘If I was to put myself in to the shoes of a pro-trader, what would I do next in preparing for the 2019 CITES meeting?’. Well if it was me, I would be commissioning and funding research, to be done at some of the top universities around the world, on the trade question. This has already started, one university conducted research on traditional Asian medicine users in Viet Nam and concluded that their responses may indicate a basis for a legalised trade. I am not sure how they came to that conclusion given the average income of the people interviewed was less than USD $300 per month (median reported monthly income falls into the 3-to-5 million VND range, with the average monthly income being 6.5 million VND) whilst at the same time the paper stated that the cost of rhino horn is USD $28,000-100,000/kg.
March 2017: Trade Legalisation – A Greedy Person Is The Poorest Person In The World
April 2017: A Load Of Bollocks From the blog: On 11 April 2017, the International Trade Centre published a paper titled: Demand in Viet Nam for rhinoceros horn used in traditional medicine. The ITC paper focuses on Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM), not using rhino horn as a status symbol, which I will comment on later in the blog. It states that the ITC conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers of TAM, including 239 people who self-disclosed they used rhino horn.
So, the first questions must be:
- Did they interview the users of genuine rhino horn or those buying fake rhino horn?
- Just how relevant was their survey group to the trade/no-trade debate?
Now the paper itself states (page 54) that the price of illegally poached rhino horn [in Viet Nam] is US$8,400/100g. So, let’s look at the income of the group surveyed (page 12). Firstly, the publication conveniently omitted that this is income per [month], so what does that mean about the groups purchasing power for genuine rhino horn? Of the 1000 people interviewed, only 50 people earned more (but we don’t know by how much more) than US$882/Month. They can’t prove if they surveyed anyone earning a sufficiently high monthly income to guarantee they were (consistently) buying genuine rhino horn in relevant quantities.
This is like basing sales projections of LVMH handbags on interviews with people on welfare – it’s simply rubbish science. If the large conservation organisations don’t have the capability or nous to pick apart these agendas, then they are of limited use to the rhino.
June 2016: Recent Spike In Rhino Poaching
August 2017: The Elephant In The Room From the blog: As we get closer to the rhino horn auction, we must ask conservation organisations to make clear statements on what they support; do they support farming of rhinos and, as a result, can they clarify how farming = conservation?
In finishing again I ask 2 questions:
- Why are key conservation orgaisations avoiding researching rhino horn consumers wild/farmed preferences?
- How will history treat conservation bodies who have enabled the question of a rhino horn trade to be dragged out for years, because they haven’t asked the consumers driving the current poaching crisis about their wild/farmed purchasing preference?
Something to think about!
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