Target: Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
Goal: Reconsider decision to sell rhino horns
The phrase two wrongs don’t make a right may come to life as South Africa decides whether or not to sell rhino horns. Increasing black market sales of ivory has the government concerned and it has asked for permission to illegally flood the market with a stockpile of rhino ivory to diminish black market sales. The African Rhino is one of the most endangered animals in the world and allowing the reopening of the ivory market cannot be tolerated.
The stockpile at the heart of the discussion is an estimated 18 tons of rhino horns. But despite the country’s sincere attempt to eliminate the available market for such products, its decision could actually put the rhino in even more danger by reopening the market. Those who sell ivory have businesses. Their products are sold and resold around the world. They have returning customers, poachers, and other extensions they are responsible for. The South African government seems to be under the assumption that once everyone buys up their ivory they will all be satisfied; nobody will need ivory anymore. But what it is really doing is reestablishing the market and when the ivory runs out the businesses will still be there and have to find ways to get more. Shutting down black market this way doesn’t shrink the ivory market, it just shifts it to a different side under the guise of government security.
Rudy van Aarde, head of Conservation ecology at the University of Pretoria, made a statement saying, “Having sensitized the world to the plight of rhinos and the problems of the illegal trade, then to have government ask to be able to sell rhino horn legally, is going to cost us. South Africa has won accolades for conservation internationally. We’ve done a lot of good things. To throw that away in pursuit of R11 billion ($1 billion) will be selling off our international goodwill, and that is quite a price to pay.”
Please take a moment to sign the petition below to demand that South Africa reconsider its decision to reopen the ivory market. It may be protecting rhinos now, but when the government stockpile runs dry they will be in more danger than ever.
Dear President Zuma,
The South African government is currently deciding whether or not to sell its stockpile of rhino ivory in an attempt to reduce black market sales. While your intentions are good, this simply isn’t a good solution. Reopening the market will only increase the necessity for ivory in the future as businesses in the industry grow.
Will selling 18 tons of rhino horns destroy businesses in the black market? Yes, but the total market size won’t shrink, it will only shift. If the government decided to sell drugs to eliminate drug dealers it would work, but the market would still be there, if not larger than before.
The rhino population is far too close to extinction to be tampered with. Please reconsider your decision and find another option to save these amazing animals without potentially putting them in even more danger down the road.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: jnissa via Flickr