Wanting an end to the ban on a trade that sees rhino slaughtered in their thousands by poachers seems contrary to conservationists' ideals, but the sad fact is that the Cites ban has not worked since it was introduced, with every good intention, back in 1977. It's something you have to get your head around
Rhino horn has a huge cultural and medicinal significance in countries such as China and Vietnam. With their economic upsurge over recent decades, a class has emerged with great purchasing power. The result is illegal rhino horn having a scarcity value higher than gold.
The money pumped into the illegal market makes possible the funding of poaching in Africa on a massive scale, far outpacing the resources available to those traditionally charged with protecting and conserving the species.
The result over the past 40-odd years has been catastrophic. Two of Africa’s six sub-species have recently gone extinct - the Western Black Rhino in 2006 and the Northern White Rhino last year. The rest - occurring mainly in southern Africa - are under pressure from poaching, organised usually from beyond national borders and sometimes with the connivance of corrupt officials.