The Beginning of the End?


The lifting of the moratorium on rhino horn trade raises more questions than answers.

A full bench in the high court unanimously made the ruling to overturn the moratorium in favour of a couple of “breeders”.

Are these members of the judiciary really so uninformed? Do they have any interest at all in the plight of our wildlife heritage?

Do they care?

One has to wonder how much money changed hands to arrive at a decision like this, a decision that is so blatantly wrong that there are few words to describe the injustice of an act like this.

The “breeder” stated way back in 1997 that rhinos would be bred to ensure the continuation of an iconic species. On good authority, I discovered that, in 1997, 30 rhinos were purchased at auction to be gathered at John Hume’s “farm”.

Now then – rhinos look after their young for some considerable time, up to 4 years, before mating again. For ease of calculation, let’s assume that all 30 rhino produced young, that all brought their young up successfully, and the original 30 were used to breed as often as possible. This would have brought the numbers up to about 135.

I know that some of the progeny would have gone on to breed, but let’s ignore that for the moment.

The breeding operation must have been successful beyond Hume’s wildest dreams as he apparently now has 1200 captive rhinos on his property. It is unknown as to how many his side-kick, Johan Kruger, has on his “farm”.

The original intention, apparently, was to produce a number of these animals to perpetuate and maintain rhino numbers in South Africa.

Yeah right.

If that was the case, why haven’t rhino been relocated to other parks, reserves and protected areas?

Why are they being bred in the first place?

For their horns.

The horns are removed regularly and stored. Rhino horns, unlike ivory, will regrow and can be “harvested” again from the same animal.

So why is this being done?

Why are there massive stocks of horn being kept by these individuals?

For money of course.

At an estimated $65 000 per kilogramme, it is an obscene amount of money being kept in the form of rhino horn.

Due to the moratorium, Hume and his mate, Kruger, could do nothing with them, hence the court application, which, tragically, was successful.

Lifting the moratorium only for domestic trade, when there is no local market for rhino horn, is another idiotic ruling. This of course will open the floodgates to illegal smuggling by the powerful crime syndicates and corrupt officials.

Once again South Africa is responsible for the criminal activity surrounding the trade. Once again, South Africa is seen as being totally uncaring. Once again, South Africa’s officialdom reaps the financial benefits.

The lifting of the ban will have disastrous consequences because there are not enough rhinos left on the planet, wild or captive, to supply even the smallest percentage of demand from the Asian countries.

Who would Hume and Kruger be selling their rhino horn to?

Hume also refers to his 1200 rhino as a “herd”. Well haven’t we all learned something new? That’s the first time that I have ever heard of a “herd” of rhinos.

A shocking, ill-informed decision from three men who should know better.

Judges Francis Legodi, Vivian Tlhapi and Myron Dewrance should hang their heads in shame.

And as for Hume and Kruger – there are no words to describe just how low these people have travelled in their quest for money at the expense of our African heritage.

I sincerely hope that the appeal to be launched by Minister Edna Molewa will be successful and fervently hope that she will carry this through and that it is not simply “hot air”.

This just in:

Please take a good look at the photo with this post, special attention to the rhinos’ horns. This is a photo of Mr. John Hume’s dehorned rhinos.

He is the largest private rhino farmer in the world with more than 1100 rhinos. He is also the major drive to get rhino horn trade legalized. NOW FOR THE QUESTIONS THAT WE WOULD LIKE HIM TO ANSWER:
1. Mr. Hume, you state in the mentioned article that you do not have one rhino on your farm with a horn. All are dehorned.

WHY THEN, IN THIS SAME ARTICLE, ARE YOU SO UPSET BECAUSE 4 OF YOUR RHINOS HAVE BEEN POACHED THE PREVIOUS WEEK? I put it to you Mr. Hume that dehorning did not stop the poachers. (“They came in here, shot two rhinos here and two here,” he said, pointing to a map of his ranch on the wall. “Three adult cows and one calf. Hacked off the horns and came out the same way. Security didn’t hear the shots. How the hell that’s possible I don’t know.”)
2. ISN’T IT TRUE MR. HUME THAT WITH DEHORNING, THEY CAN’T CUT THE HORN TOO SHORT OTHERWISE THE HORN WILL FAIL TO GROW OUT AGAIN, IT CAN ALSO CAUSE THE DEATH OF THE RHINO? I put it to you Mr. Hume, if you care to look at the photo of your own dehorned rhinos, there is enough horn left to spark a huge interest with the poachers. IN FACT: The largest and heaviest part of the horn is left.
3. MR HUME ISN’T IT TRUE THAT IN FACT 10 DEHORNED RHINOS HAVE BEEN POACHED ON YOUR PROPERTY IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS? DO YOU STILL BELIEVE DEHORNING WILL SAVE THEM? (“With the new killings, 10 rhinos had now been poached on Hume’s ranch over the prior year. In the yard outside his office sat half a dozen men, one of several groups Hume was subjecting to polygraphs to see if it was an inside job.”)
4. Mr. Hume, you state in this article that anyone who is opposed to dehorning is an enemy of your rhinos. WHY IS THAT MR. HUME, WHEN CLEARLY DEHORNING IS NOT TO YOUR RHINOS BENEFIT? I put it to you Mr, Hume that the dehorning is to the benefit of your own pocket. There is absolutely NO benefit in this for the rhino. (“Rhinos today are worth more dead than alive,” Hume said, adding that if trade were legalized, the animals would have more allies than ever. “Nobody would ever kill a rhino if he was getting money from the horn.” A smile spread across his face, and he cupped his hands together as if holding an imaginary prize: “It produces like a hen—and who the hell would kill the hen that lays the golden egg?”)
6. ISN’T IT TRUE MR. HUME THAT POISONING OF THE RHINO HORN WOULD HAVE STOPPED ALL POACHING ON YOUR FARM, BUT IT WOULD HAVE MADE THE HORN UNSELLABLE? Adam Welz, who represents South Africa for WildAid, a non-profit organization, that fights illegal wildlife trading, agrees: “The second you legalize it, you’re sending a very powerful message. You’re endorsing this product—and you’re immediately going to get a lot more people interested in buying it.”
7. ISN’T IT TRUE MR. HUME THAT POACHING WILL ESCULATE IF TRADE WAS LEGALIZED, FOR THE ABOVE MENTIONED REASONS BY ADAM WELZ? Your own misfortunes with poaching incidents is the proof that dehorning does not stop poachers.


Dehorned rhino on Hume’s “farm”


About msomiafrica

Author, photographer and conservationist who sincerely prefers interacting with animals rather than people.
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