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Trade in rhino horn products in UK

Sunday 23rd December 2012

Trade in rhino horn products in UK

Apparently, a “libation cup” made of rhino horn recently was sold by an auction house in the UK for almost $30,000. A spokesman for the auction house said the cup could have been sold for much more, but the UK regulatory agency Defra prevented export to foreign bidders. The cup allegedly dates to the 18th or 19th Century.

It is a wonder, given the present level of rhino poaching in South Africa (333 in 2010, 448 in 2011 and 638 so far in 2012) and the significant levels of illegal trade in rhino horn products, that this item could ever have been sold. The price fetched indicates that this was bought on speculation of a much higher reward when exported to Asia – does anyone really believe that a UK bidder would have spent $30,000 if they did not have a plan to sell this forward for twice or three times the cost?

And also, who was driving up the bidding? The auction house will not tell us, but I will bet my bottom dollar that the interested buyers were not UK Christmas shoppers? They were surely speculators interested in earning a much higher price by future sales.

Not claiming more than average intelligence, you and I can see straight through this. Let’s not have ivory exemptions or rhino horn exemptions based on some measure of age. Let’s have an outright ban on sale of any wildlife product from endangered species. Defra needs to ban any sale, and even confiscate auction items? After all, it feeds into the insatiable Asian market that currently supports rhino and elephant poaching.

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 14:47

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