The South African government has around 16,437 kilograms of stockpiled rhino horn and a further 2,091 kilograms more is in private hands. In recent months the South African government has stepped up its pro-trade argument and undoubtedly there will be some private rhino owners who are pro-trade.
Pro-trade requires the value of the horn to be maintained. Toxin infusion in to the horn is a devaluation strategy. Why would a government want a commodity devalued when it is pushing hard to legalise trade? Do you think this could be the reason the only rhino protection method which devalues the horn is being singled out for criticism? Well a lot of South Africans and people around the world seem to think so.
Over the last couple of months there has been several attempts to undermine the infusion process. Given this has largely backfired, big egos are now scrambling to get back some of their lost credibility. The only way to do this is to continue to try to prove they were right about the rhino horn infusion process. Because of money, what they have created is a mess and one that has huge consequences for the security of many rhinos.
As an executive coach I am often asked to solve business turf wars; large egos in competition who both believe they are right. When someone’s status is defined too much by what they do and what they get recognition for, they fight and often try to sabotage rivals or the new kid on the block. It is never pretty to watch and rarely do the opponents reflect on the ‘underling intent’ or the impact of what they are doing.
This looks even more tragic when the fight is between a David and Goliath as is happening between The Rhino Rescue Project (the David) and the South African Government (the Goliath) including scientist from SANParks. Add to that the complexity of hidden agendas and the large amount of money involved and it gets murkier and harder to unpick.