Saturday

Farming Rhinos

This post will have a bit of a political note to it. I will not show the bloody pictures of what poachers do to rhinos, but if you would like to read further on this topic and see those graphic images the article can be found here.
There is a lot of talk right now about the idea of farming rhinos. Now, before you start protesting let me talk a little bit about the reasons behind this. For starters the overwhelmingly major reason rhinos are being killed is not for sport, but for their horns' supposed medicinal
properties. The use of rhino horn to cure everything from a sore throat to cancer is wide spread in south-east Asia, especially in Vietnam's growing economy. There has been little research done on the actual benefits of rhino horn, but most people in the debate agree that it has little to no effect on health.
In addition to this, the current laws in places like South Africa state that when sport hunting (in which a large fee is paid to the government) the rhino must be killed. This seems a little illogical as many hunters say they would be willing to simply dart the animal and remove its horn above the point where it will regrow.

This leads to another point about rhino horns- they will regrow it cut off 2-3 inches from the base in about 2 years. This means that the rhinos can be sedated and the horns removed without pain, other than the dart, and the animal can get a vet exam at the same time. To me, this seems much better than shooting them and sawing off the horn at the base then leaving the animal to die of blood loss and infection.
Some people say that the farming of rhinos will only increase the demand for their horn and that the animals will not be treated properly, that they will be kept in confined spaces and be unhappy. John Hume says that this will not be the case. He currently keeps 700 rhinos on a game farm in South Africa. His rhinos have a large range and because of the regular harvesting of their horns they get a vet exam every two years. He believes that if rhino farming can become more widespread it would employ people who now turn to poaching to earn money for their families.
In addition to supporting local people though job creation, rhino farming has many other benefits. One of which is local education about the animals. The money from their horns could also be used to educate people abroad about how the animals are poached and that their horns have no medicinal benefit. In addition, the farmed horn could be sold for less than those on the black market thus undermining the black market and hopefully causing it to collapse.

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