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Earlier this year, South Africa's Constitutional Court overturned a 2009 moratorium on trade in rhinoceros horns.But as the court's ruling sinks in, commercial breeders and animal rights groups face a crucial question: Could the creation of a legal market for farmed horns curb a poaching pandemic that claims some 1,500 wild rhinos annually?This growth could outpace commercial supply, and even fuel more illegal poaching of wild animals. Critics also worry that ending the ban will remove any lingering stigma associated with possessing rhino horn, further boosting demand.Demand for wild products often far exceeds what commercial breeding can realistically offer.With demand actually increasing, and without a threshold price to encourage breeding, supply-side interventions are unlikely to be effective in protecting wild rhinos. Currently, rhino horn sells for as much as $60,000 per kilogram in parts of Asia.Breeders are convinced that with permitting systems and detection technologies, legal horns could be identified, law enforcement could prevent illegal horns from being trafficked, and domestic trading could reduce the stress on wild populations. That may be acceptable to breeders, but it defies reason for those trying to conserve wild rhinos.
The case for burning ivory: Why Kenya was right to torch its supply
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