Conservation through Rhino Coin
How do we save the rhinos? Their numbers have decreased thanks to illegal poaching and the market for rhino horn, which somehow continues to grow in a supposedly civilised world. Saving these magnificent animals is a tough task, but a new weapon might be about to join the fight.
Poachers have been killing one thousand a year and the people who are charged with protecting them are going bankrupt paying for security. With only a few tens of thousands of rhinos left in the wild the situation is becoming critical and conservationists are having to get more and more creative in order to fight back.
One of the largest stashes of rhino horn in the world is guarded by Cornu Logistics, a South African company which weighs, measures and samples 108kg of rhino horn to keep it off the black market. Alexander Wilcocks, a director of the company, has launched a cryptocurrency called Rhino Coin to raise capital to help pay for conservation – a practice described as “cryptocurrency with a conscience”.
Whilst the international trade of rhino horn is illegal and has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 1977, conditions in South Africa are slightly different. In the past you could trade rhino horn within South Africa if you were a collector, although there was a moratorium placed on the in-country trade in 2009 due to suspicions that the trade was being used as a cover by illegal poachers selling to international crime syndicates.
South Africa has a large private wildlife “ranching” system where animals such as rhinos are corralled by private individuals and grown on an almost farm-like basis. The rhinos are fed with factory feed and their horns can be harvested in a more sympathetic way which doesn’t involve killing them.
In this way, introducing a currency backed by the existing stores of rhino horn in South Africa could provide a way to loosen international trading laws whilst paying for conservation. The early adopters are betting on two things; firstly that the moratorium on in-country trading of Rhino horn in South Africa changes sooner rather than later; and secondly that the international trading ban will be lifted at some point in the future, meaning that they can make a stupendous amount of money.
Rhino horn is one of the most valuable items in the world, trading for as much as US$125 per gram on the Asian black market. Shares in Rhino coin start from US$4, demonstrating the potential profits on offer to early investors if the rules are one day relaxed. Furthermore, if the poachers can be shown that money can be made from rhino horn without actually having to go to the effort of finding a rhino, why would they not go for the low-stress option?
The money invested will help to pay for conservation efforts and protection in the present, as well as providing a stable cryptocurrency for investors at the same time. After all, the rhino horns in the Cornu Logistics vault aren’t going anywhere so investing isn’t really a risk.
This is the bleeding edge of modern conservation and there is no indication that it will take off, but it has to be worth a try. Anything which can be done to reduce rhino poaching is worthwhile.