Rhino and elephant farms 'would save species'

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The Independent Online
BIG animals such as rhinoceroses and elephants should be 'privatised' to save them from extinction, according to a leading South African wildlife researcher, writes David Nicholson Lord.

Rhinos, for example, should be farmed for their horn, which is widely prized for its medicinal and aesthetic properties and can be harvested without killing the animal.

International measures to curb trade in endangered species and conserve dwindling numbers appear to have failed, Michael Sas- Rolfes told a conference in London yesterday. Both elephant and rhino poaching continued despite millions of pounds spent by government and voluntary bodies.

Mr Sas-Rolfes is preparing a report on the rhino-horn trade for Traffic, a British-based body monitoring trade in endangered species and funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the IUCN (World Conservation Union).

He told the conference, organised by the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs and described as the first in the United Kingdom to propose free-market solutions to environmental problems, that the 'mental block' of Westerners about the commercialisation of wild animals could propel many species into extinction.

He argued that the international ban on ivory has only affected Western countries, and demand for rhino horn remained 'substantial' and was unlikely to be reduced. 'As long as there is some demand, rhinos will continue to be under pressure,' he said.