Piet Warren looks at the carcase of his latest dead rhinos and says resignedly: “Live rhinos are worth only a third of dead rhinos. If you are worth more dead than alive, you will die.”
This dead iconic African animal is yet another reason why the trade in rhino horn must be legalised. Conservationist and farmer Warren has alone lost 22 rhinos, each of them with US$300,000 of rhino on board on their noses, and in December 2016 alone he lost three rhinos to poachers.
It is a war. His rhino park is next to the Kruger National Park where rangers are shooting two poachers a week. Poaching incidents went up 30% in 2016 over 2015.
Warren’s men have shot more poachers dead than poachers have killed rhinos – but he warns that if the trade in rhino horn is is not legalised, rhinos have 8-10 years before extinction. With the trade illegal, rhino horn has soared in value to nearly double the price of gold: US$65,000/kg.
Fieldsports Africa’s and Afri-Campus.com‘s Beth Silvester goes behind the scenes at Warren’s reserve in South Africa to produce a special report.
This is where he keeps rhinos and harvests each animal’s horns every two years. However, he is currently banned from trading in it. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) threw out a proposal by delegates from Swaziland for a well-regulated trade in rhino horn.
The next throw of the dice for the rhinos’ future is South Africa’s constitutional court, which is to rule on whether Warren and others can sell rhino horn. Hoping for that day, Warren keeps the horns he has harvested in safety deposit boxes until he is allowed to sell them.
Meanwhile, he spends US$15,000 on feed and another US$10,000 a month on anti-poaching measures. And the poachers are getting cleverer. They now wear five pairs of socks to make themselves sound to rhinos like other rhinos approaching. “Why,” he asks, “cannot we farm rhinos in South Africa like we already farm ostriches and crocodiles?”
The answer is the bleeding hearts of environmentalists and antis based thousands of miles away, who know nothing of the bloodshed they are causing by refusing to allow the trade.
This appears on YouTube alongside Fieldsports Britain, episode 373