Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Surge in Rhino poaching

From the LA Times.

I usually don't get bothered by animal poaching, figuring it is poor folks trying to make a buck. while rich westerners moan more about dead animals than dead babies.

But the key part of this article is here


China's recent thrust into Africa in a rush for resources is a major factor in the illegal rhino horn and ivory trade, analysts believe, because China remains the largest market. Rhino horn, made of keratin, the same substance that forms fingernails, hooves, feathers and hair, has long been used in Chinese medicinal tonics.

Zimbabwe's collapse added to the problem, with corrupt government, army and wildlife officials reportedly involved in poaching and smuggling rhino horn and ivory. The airport in that country's capital, Harare, is reportedly a key transit hub.

In South Africa, Vietnamese diplomatic officials have allegedly been involved in rhino horn buying and smuggling. Reports in Vietnam that a government official was "cured" of cancer by rhino horn appear to have spurred Asian demand.

Many fear that the Asian market is so ancient and entrenched, there's not much a small group of farmers can do to save the species. Some support the idea of rhino farming -- regularly pruning horns, which grow back -- to meet the demand and drive down prices. Others argue that legalizing the trade would only fuel demand, putting the creatures at even more risk....

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