Photo via Shutterstock
Some researchers believe that creating a legal rhino horn trade is the only way to curb runaway poaching of the endangered mammal. At present, roughly two rhinos are killed for their horns every day in South Africa, the BBC reports. The horns are sold mostly in China, where some people believe that it is an aphrodisiac. Dr Duan Biggs and others with the University of Queensland wrote in the journal Science that the ban on trading rhino horns has actually increased trade by driving up the price to $65,000 per kilogram, and that a legal trade would curb pressure on decreasing rhino populations.
Photo via Shutterstock
Citing the success of legalizing crocodile skin, which has almost entirely eliminated pressure on populations, Dr Biggs insists that a legal trade system should be set up as soon as possible – before it is too late. There are approximately 20,000 white rhinos in South Africa and Namibia and 5,000 black rhinos, but a spate of increasingly sophisticated poaching operations has devastated their population in the last few years.
“In their report, the researchers argue that by humanely shaving the horns of live rhinos, enough material could be generated to meet global demand,” writes the BBC.
Since rhinos grow about 0.9kg of horn each year, the scientists claim that there are few risks involved in harvesting from the horn.
But other experts are not thrilled with the idea. Dr. Colmo O’ Criordan with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that enforcing a legal trade is prohibitively difficult. He also worries that legalizing the trade of the horn will actually boost poaching.
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