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Legalising rhino horn and ivory trade would backfire, says top conservationist


Legalising the trade of rhino horn and elephant ivory would not stop poaching and illegal trading, and would instead increase the demand for endangered animal products, the head of the Environmental Investigation Agency has said.

EIA executive director Mary Rice said suggestions to introduce a regulated international market were simply “academic postulating” – and in practice, would make it much harder to detect and prosecute illegal trading.

Speaking at a debate organised by environmental research organisation Earthwatch at the Royal Geographical Society on 17 October, Rice said: “Legal trade is not the solution for the long term survival of elephants and rhinos in the wild. “Opening markets without fully understanding the impact of these markets is extremely high risk – and even if it is just slightly off the mark, it is irreversible.”

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