R-rated reality show – when will the killing stop?

 

On Monday this week, on a farm near Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, another rhino was poached, bringing the tally to 30 animals killed thus far this year in South Africa alone.  And, it’s not even the end of January!  Friday today, so who knows what the latest is?  It seems as if every day brings news of another rhino killed to supply the superfluous demand for horn in the East.  Last year 448 rhinos were poached in South Africa, 25% more than the number of animals killed in 2010. When will the killing stop?

And then, there’s the ongoing killing of elephants for their ivory. Last year was a record year for the number of large-scale ivory seizes recorded in the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database, representing a sharp rise in the illegal ivory trade since 2007.

If only it was a case of nervously watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre!  Alas, no, this is a real life horror unfolding right in front of you at a theater called commercial exploitation. The visuals of rhinos with their horns hacked out or of elephants with tusks removed are horrific and speak not only to the state of conservation and how things have gone horribly wrong, but also to the warped psychology associated with wildlife consumption--greed, ruthless brutality, disrespect for life, and ethical egoism. Until we change our attitudes and values where wildlife conservation is concerned, we will continue to watch reruns of this horrific show.

Right now, there is a strong lobby in South Africa to reinstate a legal, regulated trade in rhino horn, with even the national parks authority (South African National Parks) reportedly jumping on the bandwagon. The claim: that a regulated trade will help satisfy market demand thereby leading to a reduction in poaching. This sounds great on the surface but (1) doesn’t take the lessons from history into account and (2) is formulated around the principles of economic sustainability, paying lip service to questions of biological sustainability, animal welfare and ethics. Even where economics is concerned, no one understands the extent of the markets for rhino horn and ivory in the East and with the advent of China as a major consumer of such it is highly unlikely that regulated trade could ever fulfill market expectations.

So, what to do? In the short-term, greater cooperation amongst enforcement agencies to combat illicit trade is necessary and will have an impact. The current poaching crisis involves organized crime and it is only through a focused cooperative approach that syndicates will be exposed and perpetrators brought to book. In the long-term, however, there needs to be a global shift in attitudes and values--the world must know that there is absolutely no need for the use of rhino horn and ivory in this day and age. The bottom line is that the killing will only stop when the markets for the products cease to exist. And where there is no real case to be made for their use, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

--JB

Comments: 6

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

THERE MUST BE A WAY TO PUT A STOP TO THIS. I think technology will have to be implemented to out smart the politics of the poachers and gov'ts that seem to be working together to allow this to happen. I think tracking devices could be put on every animal and every horn/tusk if you get found with one you go to jail.

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Everyone with a heart should care!

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

do not care

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

amy elliosn the family dogs 0790184511

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

the fact that someone would kill a living animal just to make some money is not only rude
but also stupid elephants and rhinos have a right to live . that these total losers would go
out to the middle of no where just to hunt these poor animals and not even care if they are totally deard when they cut off their horns or tucks,just makes me sick. And not to say anything of the fact half the time they end up leaving poor babies with out any mom or dad.
is so unreal and just unbeliveable. I myself grew up having respect for animals and belive that is the way they should be treated so people leave the animals alone to live their life in
peace. Janine ...

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you all for all your hard and sometimes sad and rewarding work. Its appreciated. Never forget that.
Sincerely,
Anita Sweitzer
Downers Grove, IL
United States

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
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Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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