Can Farming Rhinos Save the Species?

Seth Victor

Rhino-horn-tradeKevin Charles Redmon poses an interesting thought: can farming the horns of African rhinoceroses save the species? The horns of the rhinos are used throughout the world, from dagger handles to medicine. Though the animals are endangered, and protected under CITES, there is a lucrative black market business in poaching, especially when the horns fetch $65,000 a kilo; “demand for horn is inelastic and growing, so a trade ban (which restricts supply) only drives up prices, making the illicit good more valuable—and giving poachers greater incentive to slaughter the animal.” Poachers aren’t overly concerned with the long-term extinction risks of their prey. The focus is on the immediate value. Because the activity is illegal, timing is of the essence, and it’s apparently easier to kill and harvest the rhinos versus tranquilizing and waiting for them to go down. What if, Redmon wonders, we were to harvest the horns (they re-grow over time) by placing rhinos in captivity, guarding them well, and introducing a sustainable horn supply that doesn’t kill the rhinos? Continue reading

(Another) Bad Week for Polar Bears and Tuna

David Cassuto

It’s been quite a week over at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)Up for discussion was a ban on hunting polar bears and bluefin tuna.  The discussions yielded some predictably (and yet still astonishingly) shortsighted conclusions.

The delegates rejected a ban on polar bear hunting because “hunting is not the most serious threat the polar bear faces” (recall that the bear was listed as endangered last year because of the pressures created by climate change and the consequent loss of icepack).  Here’s a simple logical sequence: Hunting kills bears.  If people stopped hunting them that would be one less thing killing bears.  Unfortunately, this reasoning did not carry the day.  Rather, opponents successfully argued that there is no point to killing fewer bears until we know for certain that we won’t kill them some other way. Follow this reasoning with me if you will.  It is like refusing to treat your compound fracture until you’re certain that there exists a cure for your brain tumor.    Continue reading

Are Seahorses Becoming Extinct?

Elisa D’Ortenzio

Today, there are so many threats to the various ecosystems and the animals that live in them that it has become hard to keep track of them all.  One animal that seems to receive little attention is the seahorse, even as many believe the seahorse to be a flagship of endangered marine habitats of the world and indicators of the heath of coral reefs where they live.  The effect of their loss would cause an imbalance in the ecosystem creating lasting detrimental consequences as they are predators of bottom-dwelling organisms.

Seahorses are fish that have fascinated people due to their horse-shaped heads, kangaroo-like pouches, and monkey-like tails.  Still fascinating is that the male seahorses give birth to the offspring.  Every year about 20 million seahorses are harvested live from the world’s oceans.  The future of many species of seahorse are now in question as threats such as pollution, habitat loss and accidental fishing increasingly reduce their populations.  The biggest threat these fish face though, come from the unsustainable harvesting of seahorses for the aquarium trade, curio trade (dried and sold as souvenirs) and for use in traditional medicines.  Millions of seahorses, corals and other marine animals are collected alive and dried as souvenirs and utilized as curios with a high availability in beach resorts and shell shops around the world while the greatest number of harvested seahorses are imported to Asia.  Continue reading

Trophy Hunting: It’s Not Just Plastic Gold Statues Anymore

Simona Fucili

37975Hundreds of hunters travel to Africa every year for something they refer to as a sport, trophy hunting.  They essentially look to shoot animals to hang on their walls as trophies.  This sport not only is unethical and another form of animal cruelty, but it also creates problems that affect the ecosystem.  Although hunting was a crucial part of humans’ survival 100,000 years ago, in this writer’s opinion, more recent hunting is rarely done for the need of subsistence.  Moreover, where people once hunted to feed their family, it would seem that currently, hunting is now performed as a violent form of recreation where hunters seek out the best heads of animals they can find for their walls at home.  According to Change.org, hunting has now contributed to the extinction of many animal species all around the world including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk.  Although there are other factors that may lead to an animal’s extinction such as climate change, habitat loss and national and international wildlife trade, hunting is the biggest threat for the extinction of mammals according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and devolvement challenges.

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