More often than not, the people who have the best intentions in mind are the ones who screw it all up. We have seen this is politics, we have seen this in economics and we have seen this in warfare, now we have come to see it in our nature reserves.

The media has been reporting on the poaching of rhinos in South Africa for some time now. Who can blame them? Rhinos are not only an endangered species, but also one of the main tourist attractions to our nation. Their deaths mean fewer animals and therefore fewer tourists.

The culprits of this poaching range from locals to foreign recruits, but all of the rhino horns are heading to the same place: Asia. Almost all poachers are selling their horns to one place and that is Asia, mainly China. In China, the horns are used for traditional Chinese medicine, mainly as an aphrodisiac. This practice of hiring poachers to kill our rhinos is not only ignored by the Chinese government, it is encouraged. Obviously this is disgusting and any decent human being would not need a writer like me to tell you that. It is in fact another group related to this which I need to explain my frustration for.

In reaction to these rhino deaths, a group of activists did the best thing they could: blame the SA government. Under many other circumstances, this would be justified, as most of the time, it is the governments fault, but this time, we cannot blame the SA government. Obviously, the government benefits from rhinos, and obviously they are seeking to defend them, and they are doing as well as they can. It is not like they are the ones killing the rhinos, as the activists seem to think. If they are to lay blame on anyone, they should start boycotting the Asian markets, instead of damaging an already struggling economy like ours, therefore risking our ability to pay rangers to look after rhinos.

This stupidity isn’t the height of their naivety, however, but only a start. It is obvious that whoever runs and supports these activists did not even know the fundamental laws of economics as they sent in the demand for the SA government to burn their stockpile of confiscated rhino horns. To them, this will apparently save endangered rhinos. Now tell me, how does burning horns save rhinos? That’s right, it doesn’t. It does not frighten poachers, it does not even slightly irritate them, in fact, it is exactly what they want.

If these so-called ‘activists’ knew even the basic business principal of supply and demand, they would understand that by destroying these horns, they will not be deterring poachers, but encouraging them. They will be destroying the supply, therefore raising the demand. This will drive up the price of horns to such a height that poachers will probably become our #1 tourist; and as should be apparent, the more poachers, the less rhinos.

So how do we fix this poaching problem? The answer should be quite simple, but sadly, many will not even begin to comprehend it, or even tolerate the suggestion of it. Many have been shunned for saying it, but I have come to the conclusion that the only way to ethically save our rhinos is to say it and hopefully instate it.

This solution has been tried and tested through the ages and has made sure that hundreds of breeds of animals are kept from extinction. This simple solution is called farming. In a farm, animals are bred, guarded and above all else, killed in a fashion 100 times more ethical than the manner of the poachers. Farming has also proven to be so effective that the animal in which it is connected to not only breed at an exponential rate, but also make them almost useless in the illegal market.

You do not see machine gun armed poachers going after cows, do you? Cows are even somewhat more valuable than rhinos. What does a horn add value to? Decoration, fake Viagra, a knife handle… and that’s it. A cow on the other hand has milk (which can be used in cheese, beverages, etc.), beef, leather (clothing, furniture), hooves (jelly) and they can be kept as cool pets. Logically, a cow should be more valuable than a rhino. So why don’t people poach them? The answer is quite simple: there is no point. With farming, the product is mass produced and sold, creating a larger supply which can meet demand, lowering prices; and if prices lower, so does poaching.

The government needs to legalize rhino farming if it is to bring the rhino back from the brink of extinction. It is the only way to save these beloved creatures and save them from the vile claws of the poachers which do not know the meaning of sustainability. While these farms are being organized, however, the government needs to do something to stop rhino poachers in the meanwhile; and that is the very opposite of what the activists and poachers want. The government stockpile must be sold, the horns allowed to flood the market and make rhino horns close to worthless for a long while; long enough to allow the rhinos to start being farmed and bred.

The alternative is of course to burn the horns, but mark my words, so-called activists. If the stockpile is burnt, the rhinos WILL be wiped out, and it will be no fault of the government, poachers or anyone else but the activists. Stay on your current path, and you will be single-handedly murdering an entire species. Mark my words, you burn that stockpile, and you will become murderers.

 

 

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.