[Marxism] Rhino horn poaching: brought to you by the BRICS | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jul 8 13:45:41 MDT 2018

Three days ago a NY Post article titled “Lions fatally maul poachers who 
broke into reserve to hunt rhinos” got shared widely on Facebook, 
including by me. For obvious reasons, this was a story that made you 
feel that some kind of animal revolt was taking place a la Planet of the 

What you don’t get from Murdoch’s tabloid is any sense of the complexity 
that lay beneath the surface of this incident. For that you had to go to 
the NY Times, a newspaper that many radicals despise because it is for 
big business, etc., ad nauseam. However, as true as that may be, there 
is no substitute for the kind of newspaper that Karl Marx used to read 
in gathering the facts. For him, it was the London Times. For us it is 
the NY Times.

Titled “Lions Eat Men Suspected of Poaching Rhinos. Some Saw ‘Karma.’”, 
the Gray Lady coverage identified the socio-economic circumstances that 
led to the poaching epidemic:

	Rhino horn is worth about $9,000 per pound in Asia, driving a lucrative 
and illicit trade. It is a prized ingredient in Chinese traditional 
medicine and is considered a status symbol.

	South Africa is home to about 20,000 wild rhinos, more than 80 percent 
of the world’s population. About one-third of the animals are owned by 
private breeders. Since 2008, more than 7,000 rhinos have been hunted 
illegally, with 1,028 killed in 2017, according to the South African 
Department of Environmental Affairs.

	“Selling a single horn can exceed the yearly income of most rural 
people,” Dr. Hübschle said.

	The Eastern Cape is South Africa’s poorest province, with a gross 
domestic product of less than $3,700 per capita. The unemployment rate 
here, including people who have given up looking for work, exceeds 45 
percent, significantly higher than the national average.

	“Behind poaching there’s a bigger story of structural inequality,” Dr. 
Hübschle said. “People were chased off their land during colonialism and 
apartheid, losing their customary hunting rights and tenure. Today, many 
local communities experience some trickle-down from poaching, while 
attitudes are generally negative towards private game owners and 
protected areas.”


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