Kevin Charles Redmon warns that the illegal “rhino horn trade is flourishing”:
Twenty years ago, a kilo of horn went for $4,700. Today, it sells for $65,000, making it more valuable than either gold or cocaine. Poaching is on the rise, and by some accounts, the number of endangered (but not yet extinct) white rhino killed doubles each year. By 2035, African wildlands could be devoid of the animal.
One possible, controversial way to avoid this fate? Horn farming:
“Rhino horn is composed entirely of keratin and regrows when cut,” writes [Duan] Biggs [a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland]. “Sedating a rhino to shave its horn can be done for as little as $20.” A white rhino produces about a kilo of horn per year, and the current global demand could be met by “farming” as few as 5,000 animals on a private, well-guarded preserve. (Natural rhino death “would also provide hundreds of horns annually,” even as the herd continues to grow at a rate near 10 percent.) The millions of dollars generated by the legal enterprise could be used to fund further conservation efforts, such as wildland preservation, sustainable rural development, and field research.