Is It OK to Trade in Rhino Horn?

John Hume is the owner of the world’s largest rhino farm; he owns 5 percent of the world’s rhinos. He and others would like to see the end of the South African and international bans on the rhino horn trade so he can profit from his current stockpile of rhino horn, which could be worth about $45 million.

He argues that sawing off a rhino’s horn does not hurt the animal, and he claims that a legal trade can help conserve rhinos.But many conservationists reject this claim about legal trade. They fear that legalizing the trade will only create more demand and, therefore, more poaching—and that illegal horn will inevitably be mixed in with legal horn.

The world has already lost much of its rhino population: There are about 29,500 rhinos left on Earth today. Before the 1800s there were several hundred thousand in Africa alone. The outcome of the debate over legalization of the horn trade will impact the future of the rhino.

Published September 12, 2016.