As people who say we care about rhinos we need to make a decision to get smarter faster if we really want to save these animals from extinction in the wild. I have several reasons for making this statement, for now I will focus on just two or three. This blog is a little lengthy, please don’t assign it to the TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) basket; a lack of attention to the detail of this complex issue is slowing down the solution to the rhino poaching problem.
Firstly, in August 2012 TRAFFIC published a report: ‘The South Africa – Viet Nam Rhino Horn Trade Nexus’ highlighting Viet Nam as the primary driver of the current rhino killing spree and the key users groups. It took about two years, not until around mid 2014, for the South African and global media to move from talking about China, traditional Chinese medicine, aphrodisiacs and a 2000 year old culture to finally start talking about Viet Nam, status symbol, detox drink and a relatively recent emerging use.
Even now l regularly see articles that are stuck in the old paradigm. There has been a re-emergence of interest in rhino horn from China, but in the main rhino horn is purchased for investment, speculation or art/antique objet d’art. But that’s another story.