“Damien Mander is an extraordinary man who was in the Special Forces in the Australian Army, and served in Iraq. He became interested in the rhino and came out to Zimbabwe where he has been working under the most difficult conditions. I think his report is outstanding, and certainly leaves no doubt in one’s mind about the demand for rhino horn and the need for some clear thinking on the whole subject. My own view remains the same which is the position of the Wilderness Foundation and that there should be limited regulated trade in the horns that have been gathered through natural mortality.”
- Dr Ian Player, world renowned conservationist.
Dr Player has been largely credited with saving the Southern White Rhinoceros from extinction.
Damned if you do & damned if you don’t - Legalising the rhino horn trade
My Journey to Vietnam
By Damien Mander
Founder & CEO
International Anti-Poaching Foundation
The rhino is being hunted to extinction for its horn. As it becomes increasingly rare, the market value increases, further aggravating the situation. It has now become an ornamental object of status within Vietnamese society. A number of examples exist in Vietnam whereby status driven animal products were desired. When the market was over-supplied with these products, the value dropped off and with it demand. Could this work with the current stockpiles of rhino horn and subsequent harvesting of specified rhino across the world?
The horn is also being used in the Far East for traditional medicine, as it has for 1000’s of years. Western philosophy calls for education in Asia to shift what has been portrayed as a culture running almost as deep as their DNA makeup itself. Media campaigns are costly and perhaps the money could be better spent on wildlife conservation.
A 35-year old international CITES trade ban on rhino horn is due for review in 2013. If passed, stockpiles of horn may be eligible for controlled sale to the Far East. Protected areas holding rhino will, without harming the animal, be able to harvest the horn every three years as it continually grows back. If managed correctly, large amounts of funding could be injected into a struggling wildlife conservation industry.
I travelled to Vietnam to explore the option of education against the use of horn and also to understand a culture of traditional medicine use dating back 2500 years. My insight here is not just about the survival of a species, but the logical use of a sustainable resource.
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