Editorial: The horns of a dilemma

 

Share
Related Topics

The good news is that the illegal killing of some of the world’s most endangered mammals will top the agenda at next week’s conservation summit. But there the good news ends. Attempts to control poaching are failing, rhino and elephant numbers across Africa are being devastated, and unless the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) can galvanise global action some populations of these precious animals could be wiped out.

Until recently, efforts to tackle poaching had made some progress. But soaring demand has led to soaring prices. Weight for weight, rhino horn is now more expensive than gold. A single animal can be worth more than a quarter of a million dollars. Is it any wonder that rhino poaching has shot up a staggering fiftyfold in just five years? Meanwhile, global seizures of illegal ivory are also at an all-time high.

There are two problems here, both requiring the same solution. The first is in Vietnam, where the public appetite for rhino has surged thanks to urban myths about its medicinal properties. The second is in China, where the taste for ivory among China’s expanding middle class far outstrips the country’s limited legal supplies. In both cases, the government must act. In Vietnam, that means education programmes spelling out that rhino horn is, chemically, no different from human fingernails. It also means cracking down on trade in rhino horn. Similarly, it is up to Beijing to stamp out China’s vast black market in ivory.

Such are the recommendations to be set out at next week’s Cites conference. It must be hoped that the message gets through. More direct pressure can be applied, through trade sanctions on tropical timber, say. But it must also be hoped such measures are not necessary. Nor is there any time to waste. That Britain’s Wildlife minister points the finger publicly at China and Vietnam emphasises the urgency of the situation. That rhinos were only discovered in Vietnam in 1988, and were extinct there by 2011, must surely focus minds on its gravity.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Java / C++ Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Graduate Java / C++ ...

Programme Manager - Business Support Transformation, 1 year contract

£550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Walthamstow...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Demandware Developer

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client is...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: what if Hillary sticks, drowning sorrows and open sesame

John Rentoul
 

i Deputy Editor's Letter:

Independent Voices, Indy Voices Rhodri Jones
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor