Imagine if, deep in the bushveld, we discover that one of our rare tree species produces a fruit that is highly prized by foreigners, and that these foreigners are willing to pay untold sums of money to gain that fruit.
Of course, there is something of a gold-rush as the poorer members of the community strip the trees of their fruit to sell to foreign traders, and the population of the trees begins to decline.
Imagine if, instead of allowing farmers to cultivate the tree to bring in much-needed income (and of course save the tree species), the government steps in and bans the sale of the fruit and supports other countries trying to find a substitute for our fruit product.
Economic madness? Would a government be that stupid? Well, of course, as the tree numbers continue to decline, desperate and unscrupulous people continue to raid its fruit and, as it becomes rarer, it becomes more expensive.
Sadly, we have a real example of this in South Africa, and that is rhino horn. Would we ban mohair if a few angora goats were poached in the Eastern Cape? Would Western Cape vineyard owners actively campaign for other countries to find substitutes for our home-grown wine?