Wildlife ranchers in South Africa call for controlled trade of rhino horn

An association of 1,500 private landowners with an interest in wildlife in South Africa today called for controlled legal trade in rhino horns as a way to help address the country’s rhino poaching crisis.

The notion of legalizing trade in rhino horn is likely to be as controversial as calls to legalize and control the trade in elephant ivory. Proponents of opening formal trade argue that it allows for more transparency and profits that can be used for conservation. Opponents say that legalizing trade serves only to stimulate the market for such products.


Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) “as sole representative of private landowners with an interest in wildlife, condemns in the strongest possible terms the barbaric and ruthless killing of rhinos in order to promote the illegal trade in rhino horn,” the organization said in a news statement.

According to the news release:

“Over 180 rhino have been killed in the past 8 months alone in South Africa. This not only threatens the conservation of the species but also our African heritage and the safety and livelihood of many thousands of game farmers.

“[WRSA] believes the situation is now out of control and that urgent new initiatives will need to be taken to deal with the escalating crisis.”

WRSA opposed to poisoning rhino horns

Commenting on the recently reported incident in Thailand in the “Bangkok Star “on August 18,  in which a man was allegedly poisoned by contaminated rhino horn as a result of a plan by a small group of farmers in Southern Africa to combat the problem, WRSA said: “While there is a huge empathy for the game farmers [WRSA] does not support this unilateral action.

“The means do not justify the end” (Read the related blog post: Poisoning horns is not a solution to the rhino poaching crisis.)

While the matter of rhino poaching has been given top priority by the authorities, steps to date, have not been totally effective, WRSA added.

“WRSA is committed to urgently facilitate a rethink with all key stakeholders, including the authorities, to devise initiatives that result in a concerted, bold and speedy breakthrough.

“WRSA believes the re-introduction of legal trade in rhino horn via the strictest controls and standards, overseen by the South African authorities, is key to the solution.”

“WRSA believes the re-introduction of legal trade in rhino horn via the strictest controls and standards, overseen by the South African authorities, is key to the solution.”

WRSA was established in 2005, “from the neccessity of governments desire to deal directly with a national body and no longer with provincial bodies representing the South African game or wildlife rancher,” according to the WRSA website.

“WRSA as it currently stands is a relatively new organisation, however most of its policies have been carried over from the Northern Wildlife Organisation (NWO) and South African Game Ranchers Organization (SAGRO) before that, which had been running for almost 30 years,” the organization adds.

“WRSA is a nonprofit organization currently representing 1,500 members of the registered 9,000 game ranches. WRSA’s main function is to liaise closely between the game ranchers, non-governmental and governmental authorities to ensure a healthy working relationship, assisting govenmental authorities with the setting up of policies, regulations and norms and standards applicable to the wildlife industry.”

Related reports from the rhino war zone:


International park becomes frontier in Southern Africa’s rhino war

South Africa vows to fight rhino poachers to “last man standing”

Elle Macpherson a voice for rhino conservation?

“Conservationists” behind rhino poaching spree, newspaper reports

South Africa battles to save rhinos from high-tech poachers

South Africa, Zimbabwe epicenter of rhino poaching


NGS stock photo of South African poster by Steve Raymer

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Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn