South Africa: Dampening Demand for Horn is Best Way to Halt Rhino Poaching

by Aug 30, 2010Rhinos

Johannesburg — A STRATEGY to protect rhino should also consider dampening demand for powdered rhino horn, which is prized in the Far East, a marketing and branding expert suggested last week.

So far this year about 180 rhino have been killed in SA by poachers who are using increasingly sophisticated tactics, including night vision equipment and helicopters.

Rhino horn is a traditional medicine in some Asian cultures, believed to enhance virility.

Andy Rice, chairman of branding company Yellowwood Future Architects, said one approach to the problem could be to concentrate on lowering demand for powdered rhino horn in the Far East. “I’m from the advertising and marketing community and we have only one mandate — to use our creativity and experience to generate demand for a product.

“We could use that creativity and experience to do the opposite — dampening demand for a product,” he suggested at the Rhino Summit organised by Lead SA last week.

On Friday he told Business Day that weakening demand for the product was likely to be the only sustainable solution. Mr Rice’s comments followed The Bangkok Star’s report that a man in Thailand had died after taking poisoned rhino horn, which was apparently from SA.

The newspaper said more deaths could follow as several private rhino owners were believed to be injecting poison into rhino horns to try to discourage poaching. Peter Milton, from the Strategic Protection of Threatened Species, suggested that staining rhino horn might be an alternative to poison, as this did not pose the same moral dilemmas. Meanwhile Wildlife Ranching SA, which represents private landowners with an interest in wildlife, called for legal trade in rhino horn to be re-introduced.