Demand for Rhino Horn Greater Than Ever

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Dr. Bradley Martin with a young elephant
Despite prominent conservation efforts to save endangered rhino, Esmond Bradley Martin reports from Yemen that the market for rhino horn remains robust. In an investigation funded by Global Communications for Conservation and the Friends of Howletts & Port Lympne, Dr. Bradley Martin and Lucy Vigne discovered 100 craftsmen repairing or fashioning the rhino horn dagger handles, worn by the men of Yemen as a symbol of their masculinity. Chips and shavings from the rhino horn are sold to Chinese and Koreans for pharmaceutical sales. The researchers were approached by traders desperate for more horn. "If you have any quantity," one said, "we will buy." The price is now 900 BPS, or well over $1,000, for a kilogram. This is a twenty per cent increase over the price of two years ago. Although the use of the horn has been illegal in Yemen since 1992, there are no effective penalties. It is thought that the fresh horn exported to Yemen may have come from Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Efforts to protect the black rhino in other parts of Africa, such as the successful program at the Nairobi National Park, may lead people to think the species is no longer in danger, which is not the case. One solution is to assist the Yemen officials with law enforcement training to halt the illegal trade, which was promised when the country joined CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in 1997. But the international aid and training have not been delivered to equal the magnitude of the problem.

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