Animal Rights

Loving Animals to Death: Rules to 'Protect' Animals Often Put Them At Risk

The Humane Society even opposes artificial rhino horn, which would lower demand for poachers' fare.


We need to sell more rhino horns, quickly.

That may be the only way to save rhinos from extinction. Today, rhinos vanish because poachers kill them for their horns. Businesses turn their horns into ornaments or quack health potions.

Some horns sell for $300,000. No wonder poachers risk their lives for one. How do you fight an incentive that strong?

Flood the market!

That's a solution suggested by Matthew Markus.

Markus's biotech company can make artificial rhino horn in a laboratory that's virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

Put enough of that lab-grown horn on the market and supply and demand will bring the price way down.

Then poachers won't risk getting killed trying to steal real rhino horn.

"One way to devalue something is to create a lot of it," said Markus. "When things are abundant, people don't kill."

South Africa tried a mild version of this solution once. For 20 years, they made it legal to own rhinos and sell their horns.

Poaching dropped because legal rhino farming took away the poachers' incentive. Rhino farmers bred rhinos and protected them. Once in a while, they'd put rhinos to sleep with tranquilizer darts and saw off their horns. The horns grow back. The rhino population quadrupled.


But animal welfare activists are never happy with any solution that involves profiting from nature. South Africa banned sales of rhino horn again. Poaching rose 9,000 percent from 2007 to 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Now South Africa is considering legalization again, but they will have to fight the NGOs.

Some, like Humane Society International, even oppose sale of that artificial horn. They asked the U.S. government to block a shipment of a sample of rhino DNA that might have created better artificial horn.

I confronted the Humane Society's spokeswoman about that. Our interview will be one of the first videos for my new project: "Stossel on Reason." I will post videos weekly on Facebook, Twitter and Reason TV. We start this week.

In this first story, the Humane Society's Masha Kalinina passionately argues against re-legalizing rhino farming and the sale of artificial horn.

"This is dangerous! Absolutely dangerous for rhinos and their survival," she says. "This is greenwashing an illegal activity… The problem is that people still see animals as commodities, natural resources for their use!"

Yes. And why is that a problem? I eat eggs and chicken, and I drink milk. More chickens and cows are alive because people like me pay for them or what they produce.

Kalinina replied: "Are we really going to farm every single animal on this planet so we can continue endlessly supplying this bloodlust and thirst of people to consume wildlife products?"

Give me a break. Farming isn't "bloodlust."

South African farmer John Hume says each of his 1,500 rhinos has 12 acres of land in which to run around. Every two years he trims their horns. That procedure is painless enough that even environmental groups perform it on wild rhinos to discourage poachers.

The Humane Society claims legalization won't stop poaching. Kalinina points out that elephant ivory trading was once made partly legal, and it "started up a new carving industry in China." Demand increased when supply increased, she said.

But that was hardly real legalization. Just a few one-off sales were allowed. To really bring down the price, you'd need a consistent supply of cheap horns. Artificial horn could provide that.

The Humane Society rejects that solution. Instead, they run ads that say rhino horn is not good medicine.

It's fine to try to educate people, but legal rhino farming and artificial horn are much better ideas. People respond faster to price signals than lectures from the Humane Society or regulations that impoverished African nations barely enforce.

The NGOs' solution has failed. Hunting bans don't stop poaching. In fact, bans create more crime, just as government's attempts to prohibit alcohol sales did. Poachers have killed a thousand park rangers.

If we stick to the Humane Society and other NGOs' ways of doing things, the rhino and other endangered animals will disappear.

Market-hating environmentalists will love endangered animals to death.


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  1. Loving Animals to Death: Rules That ‘Protect’ Animals Often Put Them At Risk
    Why does nobody mention that neutering, spaying, and declawing domestic pets is cruel?

    Pet lovers want to have pets not matter what they have to do to them to make them their little furry slaves.

    1. Probably because most people don’t think it is. And they don’t want a bunch of extra kittens and puppies all the time. Or cats spraying all over the place.

      1. Yup, they sure don’t think it is.

        Anything to control the “kids” and keep them from peeing or procreating. The inconvenience of having pets.

        1. Yes, people want to control the behavior and reproduction of their domesticated animals. Imagine that.

          Are you some kind of PETA activist or something?

          1. People who Eat Tasty Animals? No.

            My point was that this article is about animals and how SPCA is concerned about to not allow taking of rhino horns but cutting a dogs balls off and declawing a cat is not deemed cruel.

            Its not cruel to cut your balls off? Of course it is.

            Animals are not humans so they don’t have rights but we should treat them as well as we can. I jsut wish people would stop being so wishy-washy about animals being anything but animals.

    2. My cat is my slave. She goes out and finds me food, then personally serves it to me, and then cleans up after me, even scooping up my poop. Then she slavishly showers me with affection. Hey…wait a minute.

      1. You must know my calico.

    3. lovecon… you won’t believe anything I’m about to write, and/or you’ll accuse it of being ‘anecdotal,’ but I’d like to tell you a short story…

      My (first) wife, very much an animal lover, and I had two cats. We didn’t want ’em to destroy our furniture and curtains, so we had them declawed. Just the front paws, because that’s all that’s really needed. They can still eviscerate a victim or attacker by using their hind legs’ claws.

      We took ’em to the vet, a wonderful woman, and a day or two later, picked them up. We tried to be as careful as possible to not hurt them or endanger their “new wounds,” but one of them got out of our hands and jumped about three feet from the vet’s exam table to the floor.

      She didn’t scream in pain or complain in any way. She just started walking away and we picked her up and put her into the carrier and took her home. No apparent residual pain, no complaints, no infections, no curtain-scratching.

      My (current) wife and I have adopted a half dozen or more dogs over our time together, plus many she bred and showed before we met. All of the males we’ve owned were neutered and all of the females were spayed.


      1. … ctd….

        Within a day or so of spaying or neutering, EVERY single one of them showed NO ill-effects AT ALL, nor ‘complained’ of any pain or apparent discomfort from the processes. They were a bit groggy from the anesthetics for part of the day after we brought them home, and after that, one could not tell at all whether they’d been operated upon at all.

        So, while you may think ‘they hate it or suffer forever from it,’ I think you’ll have to go far and wide to find ANY evidence to support your ‘projections’ of discomfort on their behalf.

        Hell, one of our neighbors got a vasectomy and he complained quite honestly about the pain and discomfort… until it went away. I’ve had bariatric surgery and after a month, the pain was just about gone and after a year I could no longer even find where the incisions were made.

        I think your idea of “cruel” is a complete exaggeration of reality and that’s probably why a lot of folks here won’t take your complaints seriously.

        But, as I said, you won’t believe anything that disagrees with your beliefs and nothing any of us say here will change your mind…

        And that is one of my measurements of a Member Of A Cult.

  2. The problem is that people still see animals as commodities, natural resources for their use!”

    Leftists are anti-human. It’s not about the rhinos, it’s that human beings are a cancer and need to be exterminated.

    1. It’s really only one segment of the left. They aren’t all loony enviro-nuts.

      It’s an interesting shift from the old school commies, though. They had no regard for the rights of individuals. But they did put their ideas about human collective development before other animals and most environmental concerns.

      1. Despite protestations to the contrary, there really is only one segment to the left. It’s all one thing. It seeks absolute power. The pseudopodia that appear, at cursory glance, to be independent groups are just parts of the whole.

        1. Yes, and libertarians are all just republicans who want to smoke pot.

  3. We need to sell more rhino horns, quickly.

    I’ve tried to enlighten green weenies about this concept with regard to livestock/crops/trees. We don’t have a shortage of chickens because we grow them for consumption. Likewise, we don’t have a shortage of paper because we grow trees for paper.

    1. we also have no shortage of fucking morons cause we edumacate everyone

    2. They want fewer chickens.

    3. Yeah, paid big game hunting is probably the best way to preserve most of the large African species. Make them actually worth something to the locals.

      1. Environmentalists are not economists; it must be a crime against humanity on some level to expect them to consider things like supply and demand and any incentive other than humanistic.

  4. Why are leopards endangered? Because importing leopard trphies into the US is banned. Times was when if a Leopard was snacking on the herds of an African village, the village would take steps to make sure it stayed in the area, because there was a good chance that some mad white guy would,come along to shoot the leopard,and pay them several years worth of bounty for the privilege.

    Now the leopard is just a dangerous pest animal, and the Africans kill them whenever possible.

    1. The bounty on a leopard is worth a few sheep.
      In a similar concept many people find confusing, culling old bull rhinos that no longer mate but still maintain territories that make it more difficult for younger bulls to mate will actually help the population.

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  6. Would artificial horn really be a substitute in the “medicinal ” market? If not, you would still have poaching. They could then claim it was artificial when shipping.

    Of course if they can take a real product labeled artificial and sell it as real, they can take an artificial product and sell it as real.
    Meanwhile South Africa is a sovereign nation. They should legalize farming and flood the black market.

    1. Would artificial horn really be a substitute in the “medicinal” market?

      Only if they lie and say it’s real.

      But artificial horn is just a gateway drug to the real thing so of course they’re going to ban it.

    2. Perhaps we should have the PETA nutjobs contribute their “human horn” as an alternative (ref:

      1. … start the PETA “contribution” by spaying and neutering ’em…

  7. Give me a break.

    You were never going to get a rational argument from one of those fringe organizations but bonus points for trying.

  8. But animal welfare activistsprogressives are never happy with any solution that involves profiting from nature.

    TMI — FIFY

    1. Environmentalists are not economists; it must be a crime against humanity on some level to expect them to consider things like supply and demand and any incentive other than humanistic.

  9. Give me a break. Farming isn’t “bloodlust.”

    Well, it’s certainly meatlust. Sometimes it’s also bloodlust. (If we’re defining lust as simply a strong desire.)

    But the statement is still stupid. What’s the goal? To prevent extinction. What seems to work best? Farming the threatened species.

    1. When I see these sorts of people all up in arms for any and all sorts of animal “exploitation” (read: *any* sort of interaction with an animal closer than watching them on a nature show), I just think of the song “Disgustipated” by Tool:

      And I begged, “Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?”

      And the angel said unto me, “These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots!
      You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust.”


  10. “This is dangerous! Absolutely dangerous for rhinos and their survival,” she says. “This is greenwashing an illegal activity… The problem is that people still see animals as commodities, natural resources for their use!”

    Priority 1: Animal Rights, and changing the way humans see animals.
    Priority 2: We must stand by our principles.
    Priority…. Actually saving species. It’s way down on the list somewhere.

  11. These enviroweenies are all after one thing, and that only: the reduction of the human population all round the world to perhaps a fifth of today’s population. ANY form of pressure they can bring to bear on our proliferation or success will be brought. That can include “endangered species” regulations (California’s Delta Smelt, a three inch freshwater fish) was recruited to shut down a huge percentate of the available water to California’s Central Valley farmers. WHY? Reduce the food supply and raise food prices. How about the stupid mandate for ethanol being added to gasoline? Gummint subsidies to people to grow corn they were going to grow anyway, and NOT grow other crops they were not going to grow anyway, raising the overall price of motor fuel and reducing its economy (fewer miles per gallon with ethanol blended)…. which increased the demand for corn to ethanol production and placed extreme hardship on many Central American nations….. this is why THEY push for the stealing of millions of acres by FedGov and turning them into “monuments” and “preserves”. Also why they oppose any moves to local control of those lands. Would not surprise me if it is also why so many cost-adding “SAAAAAAAAAFETY features are now “stock” on new cars.. FIFTEEN AIRBAGS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? At $1500 per, that’s about 20K to replace them when the car runs over a big tomcat, thus totalling it.. the replacement of which drives insurance premiums sky high…

  12. Welcome to Reason John Stossell!!
    I was a libertarian and didn’t really realize it until I read a book by you about 12 years ago…I still thought of you as the consumer products protection guy I saw on TV as a kid!
    Thanks your influence and for fighting the fight.

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