To: John Varty
You obviously supports the legal sale of Rhino horn and elephant ivory much to my surprise. I have to strongly disagree with you. There is not and never will be enough rhino horn and elephant ivory to satisfy the market for these products. One-off sales have not worked in the past to stop the poaching. They only feed the desire for more of the product. The huge influx of Chinese workers into Africa have been instrumental in the increase of poaching. The growing middle class in China has increased the markets for ivory and rhino horn.
The only way to stop the poaching is to educate the Asian people. I watched a documentary just recently where many Chinese were interviewed and asked if they knew that elephants are being killed to get the ivory the people are buying. Most of them said they didn’t realize that and appeared shocked. The world has to put pressure on the Asian governments – mainly China – to find a way to stop the desire for these products through mass education on TV, in schools etc. plus serious punishment for those who are caught importing the product.
What good will your plan do when they have sold all the horn, ivory and skins in the inventory? The poachers will go out and get more because now the market has been stimulated even more so they have many more buyers.
Advertising is a powerful tool. Public service announcements and education worked in the U.S. to stop littering in the 60’s and substantially reduced drunk driving. The same mass programs could work to stop the Asians from buying horns and ivory.
I am an admirer of the work you do in Africa but I believe you are wrong to promote one-off sales of ivory and horn.
Hi John. I assume that this is tongue in cheek. I cannot believe that you would be for the legalization of the rhino horn trade. We have both been in the wild life industry all our lives and have followed the trends. Encouraging trade in wild life products with the East has never had any effect other than to feed their insatiable demand thus exponentially increasing the promotion of the illegal trades. Cheers Mike Gunn.
How sad that Mr Varty chooses this option for our wildlife knowing full well that the once off sale of Ivory to Japan and China has fuelled this Elephant poaching crises that we have today. Tragic that this is what he wants for our rhino. Trade will not stop poaching or illegal horns, proper protection and a willing Government will. Instead of opting for true conservation Mr Varty has opted for human greed.
I’ve enjoyed your antics (BTW: I say ‘antics’ in the nicest possible way) for a good number of years starting with the stuff you made with Elmon in the early years. The letter you penned to John Hume, posted widely on FB, leaves me a little puzzled. Controversy for the sake of controversy is fine but we live with the consequences. I suppose more correctly our children live with the dreck we leave behind. Are you really of the opinion that rhino horn sales be made legal? If so why?
I disagree with this strategy.
Whilst the sale of an already procured resource, accessed either by de-horning or the confiscation of poached items, may seem attractive and logical due to its value, that value is derived and supported by demand, a demand which will be further encouraged by this sale.
This is one of the most disappointing aspects of funding the protection of wild species, that the most valuable resource driving extinction can and should not be used to support conservation measures.
I agree that we need to develop large funds to support conservation efforts in all areas of the world and for all endangered species and habitat; some of the more endangered have little intrinsic value available to drive support efforts and perhaps it is here where the fundraising strategy which I hope to discuss with you soon could be most effective.
Unfortunately many in this world see nothing of value unless it can produce a profit. Wouldn’t it be great to turn this around in favour of natural resource management rather than bank balance management.
I hope we can talk soon
Thank you to the above for carefully thought out emails.
When the National Parks had the auctions of ivory in the 80s, the Kruger National Park had 7000 elephants. The Sabi Sand Game Reserve, where Londolozi is situated, had 5 elephants. Today the Kruger National Park has 13 000 elephants and Sabi Sand can have as many as 1000 elephants in the dry season.
This seems pretty successful to me, especially as elephants are beginning to colonize the Transfrontier park into Mozambique.
So kindly tell me where the sale of ivory at auctions has fuelled the poaching of elephants in South Africa? The above example suggests the opposite.
In the 60's, the Sabi Sand owners introduced White rhino, purchased from Natal Parks.
For 50 years we have protected, conserved, bred and paid for our rhino, which is now a sizeable population. Over the years, rhino have died of old age, being killed in fights and died from disease. The horns of these rhinos have been collected and stored in safe places away from the Sabi Sand. The horns have no value, because under the present law private individuals cannot trade legally in horn.
By 2010 sizeable, sophisticated syndicates of rhino poachers were operating successfully in South Africa.
South Africa is the stronghold of the White rhino, with a total of 18 000, 25% being held and conserved by the private enterprise (South Africa has donated Black and White rhino to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi amongst others over the last 20 years).
By 2011 the poaching syndicates had identified the soft targets and 448 were poached in that year (2007 - 12; 2008 - 83; 2009 - 122; 2010 - 333)
The trend continued into 2012 and 10 have been killed this year (end of September; 4 rhinos were killed at Lalibela yesterday).
So how do we protect our rhinos that we have bred up for 50 years?
We protect them by becoming a hard target. You get a reputation amongst poachers that you will be killed if you try to poach rhino in our area. In order to be a hard target, you have to employ a small army of highly trained well-armed men 24/7.
To back up the ground crew, you need air power. A Robinson 44 helicopter flies at R2 600 per hour and fuel is increasing every 6 months.
You need a radio communication network and you need to be able to pay for information. When you do make arrests you have to hire skilled legal people to make the charges stick. The poaching syndicates are well represented legally and many are slipping away on technicalities.
As stated in a previous newsletter, the Government has done little or nothing to help the private enterprise combat the rhino poaching.
So how do you finance this war against the sophisticated syndicates? You finance it with money, lots of money! Where does the money come from? It comes from the rhino horn stocks that have been lying in vaults for many years. (some 20 tonnes of rhino horn are presently in stock piles)
I was in the rhino conservation business long before I was in the tiger conservation business. I and Sabi Sand owners invested in rhinos in the 60s. I and the owners of the Sabi Sand have paid to conserve and breed those rhinos for over 50 years. I and the owners of the Sabi Sand must now pay for the army to fight the syndicates (no Government assistance).
The success of the rhino will be won by those who have the ability to protect it on the ground and those who can enforce the big jail sentences in the courts.
Therefore, those who paid and invested in rhinos have every right to trade in the rhino horn that has been collected for over 50 years.
The inability to finance the army against the syndicates may well mean we lose the battle on the ground. This is not an agenda that I am contemplating. I intend to win and win big, to crush the syndicates and help move the South African rhino population forward to 36 000 in my lifetime.
If people like John Hume, and others will help me, I will go all the way to the Supreme Court of South Africa for my right to legally trade the rhino horn to further the aims of rhino conservation in South Africa.
Tread lightly on the earth.