The only long-term solution is to de-monetarise the horn. If a chemical company would develop a matrix to bind compressed animal hair into a product indistinguishable from rhino horn outside a hi-tech laboratory, and then covertly penetrate the illegal trade with it, they could progressively increase supply, flood the market, force down the price and make poaching uneconomic. Cattle tails and hoofs from abattoirs would be promising ingredients.
The company might even make a profit. The traders could probably increase theirs, reducing their incentive to look too hard at the new source of supply (which might be presented as corrupt sale of South African official stocks). The customers would be happy; and so would the rhinos.
Why will no one try it? Nothing else is working.
Upper Coxley, Somerset
The writer was Deputy High Commissioner, Zimbabwe, 1983-86.Reuse content