South African conservationist economist Michael't Sas-Rolfes....proposes legalizing the trade.
"The rationale is to bring the price down to a manageable level through constant, legal supply." A lower price, he argues, would provide less incentive for poachers to kill the rhinos. Right now, the poaching business is too profitable for poachers to stop.It's like the cocaine business.
Another benefit of legalizing the trade would be the income that is created, which in turn could be used to protect the rhinos, says Sas-Rolfes. "It has become expensive to protect rhinos, and conservation organizations simply don't have sufficient funds to invest in the level of field protection that is needed to sustain the number of rhinos we have," he said.
Legalizing the trade would provide a legal, market solution that could work, Sas-Rolfes thinks.But if your income depends on moralizing about endangered species, it might not work for you.
But any legalization of the trade won't happen fast. The body that decides on such trade is CITES, or the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species - which has 180 member states. It banned international trade of rhino horn in 1977.
David Morgan, head of the CITES scientific unit, explains: "If there is to be any change in the existing situation, that has to be proposed by one of the member country of CITES at the next conference of parties in 2016.
And in order for any proposal to pass, it needs two-thirds of the present countries' votes. This can only happen if the South African CITES delegates can put forward a convincing proposal - which is by no means a sure thing.Or buy off the special interests.