Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

What I learnt on my journey

A file photo of a woman grinding rhinoceros horn with water at her apartment. Picture: AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen

China is an international superpower and unlikely to bow to the international demand to cease using traditional medicine containing endangered animals.

At a 2011 CITES meeting, China refused to discuss the issue of how to reduce demand for rhino horn.

Delegates from Vietnam and China agree that farming animals endangered in the wild for their body parts, is a far more logical approach than the continued trend of killing them outright. But the average person on the street often struggles with this concept.

Could the average person stand seeing a rhino in a small enclosure being kept alive for the harvest of its horn? Is this a better option than the extinction of a species because we couldn’t stand to see it caged?

The truth is that most humans will place self-preservation and life enjoyment over the death or discomfort of an animal. We struggle with the ethics of regulating human population with 7 billion people on the planet, but we’re clever enough to de-sex cats and dogs.

At the end of the day, whilst I struggle seeing animals in cages, I would struggle more knowing that they were extinct from the wild.

If some rhinos must spend their lives in relative confinement so others can be free to survive in the wild, then the logic in me says this is better than total extinction.

China makes up 20 percent of the world’s population. Vietnam has almost 90 million citizens. Is the small army of conservationists fighting for the survival of this species able to stand forever against this overwhelming and growing mass of rhino horn users?

If some Asians can express little compassion for captive animals in their own countries, then why should they care about a rhino’s welfare on the other side of the planet? At the end of my travels I realise that it is not the Asians directly killing the rhino.

The rhino is being killed by people that sit behind desks on the other side of the world and decide that wildlife managers in Africa cannot utilise their own natural resources sustainably.

Whilst the price of rhino horn goes up, the resources to defend these animals becomes increasingly limited. Without sufficient protection, a landowner holding 10 rhino may lose two or three per year.

With the harvesting of just one horn each year at the current market value the landowner can now invest what is needed into anti-poaching efforts and reduce the threat to the population. With the harvesting of 3 horns annually, they can buy more land and breed more rhino, and overall, protect more biodiversity.

Africa’s culture of hunting allows foreign tourists to come onto the continent and hunt the rhino to be taken home and mounted on a wall over a fireplace. This is currently acceptable behaviour, mostly sustainable, and laws protect it. Whilst this happens, many jump up and down at the thought of sustainably taking the horn off a living animal to be used in another culture’s medicine.

Can we really change Eastern beliefs and culture? Are we really on enough of a pedestal to do so, or are we just being arrogant? In the mind of an Asian, it is we Westerners killing the rhino, as we will not create a system to give them the horn without killing the animal, when we actually could.

I think deep down CITES officials understand that at some stage harvesting of horns will have to be legalised to some extent. Whether this begins with a release of horns taken from natural deaths or not, only they know.

By Damien Mander
June 29 2012 at 12:04pm

What I learnt on my journey


Survival in the wild

Survival in the wild  Sunday Mail 13/10/2019   Phineas Chauke IT is not called wildlife for nothing. Life in the wild is not only survival

Read More »

ZimParks, IFAW in conservation deal

ZimParks, IFAW in conservation deal Herald 3/10/2019   Elita Chikwati and Ellen Chasokela Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) on Monday signed a Memorandum

Read More »

New Posts: