Sunday, March 03, 2013
Can the Rhino Be Saved?
Gold is not the most expensive commodity in the world despite its phenomenal increase in price over the past few years. Gold is going currently at about $1600 per ounce while the Rhino horn fetches $29485 per pound. Yes you heard it right, rhino horn is going for about $1843 per ounce and the demand is strong.
It has been estimated that so far in 2013 two rhinos are shot illegally each day. The reason is essentially the Chinese demand for the horns that are used as medical ingredients. Some scientists believe that unless some very strong measures are taken to protect the remaining rhinos then they would become extinct in captivity in the next 20 years or so.
But why is that so if the rhino has been legally protected since 1977? Simply because to pass a law is one thing and to implement it is a completely different issue. In this case it is hoped that economics can come to the rescue just as it did for the crocodiles. The suggestion is to legalize the trade in rhino horns by setting up a legal market. Economists, at least some of them, have been arguing for years that the illicit drug trade will not be curbed until drugs became legalized. The rationale behind these arguments is quite simple. Restrictions on rhino horn, just like restrictions on drugs, have failed to address the demand side of the equation. Unfortunately given sufficient demand will eventually attract enough supply by making risk taking profitable; sell rhino horn at a price that is more expensive than gold.