Don’t sign a petition to save the rhino!

If you’ve ever eaten a crayfish taken illegally out of the sea, please do not sign any anti-rhino poaching petitions. If you’ve ever snuck a perlemoen out the sea or eaten one that has been, please do not sign any anti-rhino poaching petitions. If you’ve ever eaten fish in a restaurant with questionable origins or on the endangered list, please do not sign any anti-rhino poaching petitions. Hell – if you’ve ever littered on a beach, please do not sign any anti-poaching petitions.

Thousands of South Africans are getting behind the plight of the rhino and with good reason. It’s quick and easy to sign a petition or post a facebook status about how outraged you are about the massacre of these animals, but how helpful is this really?

All poaching, illegal harvesting and unregulated fishing is a consequence of market demands. It’s that simple. Without a market, there is no one to supply. The consequences are depleted oceans, deforestation, extinct species and an ailing planet.

Overfishing around the world is being driven by demanding markets willing to pay a premium to satisfy their appetite. Just how different is that to the nature of the rhino poaching problem currently being experienced in South Africa?

The solution? The solution lies in education – in educating the market that demands the product. It’s irrelevant that we in South Africa know that rhino horn is not all it’s cracked up to be – the end user of the product needs to be informed.

So why am I asking you not to sign petitions? By all means go ahead, but please do not be naive about the impact it will have – and when you do add your name to the list, give some thought to your own role in creating market demands that impact the future health of the earth and its species.