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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : August 2001 : Closing down the illegal trade in rhino horn in Yemen
 

Closing down the illegal trade in rhino horn in Yemen

 
Lucy Vigne and Esmond Bradley Martin
August 31, 2001

A study of Yemen’s rhino horn trade showed that, for the first time since surveys started in 1978, no new rhino horns were being made into dagger (jambiya) handles in the Sanaa souk. This is a major conservation success as Yemen until recently was a main end-market for African rhino horn. Rhino horn traders complained that the government ban on rhino horn imports had harshly affected their business.

Despite the lack of rhino horn on the Yemeni market, prices have not risen, strongly suggesting a sharp decline in demand. The wholesale price for rhino horn in Djibouti (which acts as an entrepot for Yemen) remains the same since the late 1990s at USD 700/kg, and the price offered for rhino horn by jambiya makers in the Sanaa souk is USD 1300/kg, slightly less than in the previous year.

This is because Yemenis are not prepared to pay more for a jambiya with a new rhino horn handle as the per capita income in the country has continued to fall and people have become cautious about spending money. Furthermore, jambiyas with older rhino horn handles are still available. If customers have money to spare, they prefer jambiyas with older rhino horn handles, as compared with those having new rhino horn, as they regard these as more prestigious and a better investment.

At the cheaper end of the market, more jambiyas with handles made of horn from the Indian domestic water buffalo are being made and offered for sale in Sanaa compared with five years ago as the human population steadily expands. Efforts to provide information on the plight of the rhino were initiated in Sanaa with posters and other educational materials dispersed in schools and public places as a start towards improving public awareness to reduce the demand for new rhino horn further.

Lucy Vigne and Esmond Bradley Martin
Pachyderm January - June 2001 No 30

Peter Morrison
WildlifeDecisionSupport.com
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