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Newsletter 58

A Letter to John Hume, SA biggest Rhino Breeder

Hello John 

Why don't you do the following: 

Request a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Head of Department of Environment and Tourism. 

At the meeting you request permission for a one off auction to sell all your rhino horn and rhino horn from other private individuals. 

Point out that the precedent was set in the eighties when South Africa's National Parks had ivory auctions in which Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese buyers participated in the purchase of ivory from culled elephants in Kruger National Park. 

The money from those auctions, went back into the protection and conservation of elephants in South Africa.

Rhino horn, ivory and leopard skins confiscated from poachers by Zambian national parks

Picture: John Bassi

If they do not grant you permission for the auction then you create a global event. 

When Richard Leakey got President Moi to burn the ivory in Nairobi, he attracted world attention. You may not have agreed with Leakey's actions in destroying the resource, but he forced the global fraternity to focus attention on the ivory trade. 

In your case, you go ahead with the auction, informing the South African Government of your intentions. If you would like me to stand beside you, I will do so.

You invite 100 private individuals who have rhino horn from dead or dehorned rhino to join you in the auction. 

You hire the biggest and most efficient Public Relations Company you can find and you create a global event of films, speakers, activists and the auction. Rather like Ian Player's wilderness congress some years ago. 

If you were on your own, the Government could arrest you. I doubt if the Government could arrest 100 high profile, private individuals trading openly in rhino horn and advertising the auction globally.  

If the Government agrees to the auction, then you have one step in the door for the legal trade of rhino horn. 

Good luck and Tread Lightly on the Earth.



How sad that Mr Varty chooses this option for our wildlife knowing full well that the once off sale of Ivory to Japan and China has fuelled this Elephant poaching crises that we have today. Tragic that this is what he wants for our rhino. Trade will not stop poaching or illegal horns, proper protection and a willing Government will. Instead of opting for true conservation Mr Varty has opted for human greed.

How regretable.

Bet Regards

Melissa Weavind

Hi JV 

I’ve enjoyed your antics (BTW: I say ‘antics’ in the nicest possible way) for a good number of years starting with the stuff you made with Elmon in the early years. The letter you penned to John Hume, posted widely on FB, leaves me a little puzzled. Controversy for the sake of controversy is fine but we live with the consequences. I suppose more correctly our children live with the dreck we leave behind. Are you really of the opinion that rhino horn sales be made legal? If so why? 

Mark Kirk

Dear Tiger Canyons: 

I hope that you did send this letter to Mr. Hume, as the current poaching of rhino’s is nothing but extermination, as is the case with tigers. 


Hi JV 

I disagree with this strategy. 

Whilst the sale of an already procured resource, accessed either by de-horning or the confiscation of poached items, may seem attractive and logical due to its value, that value is derived and supported by demand, a demand which will be further encouraged by this sale. 

This is one of the most disappointing aspects of funding the protection of wild species, that the most valuable resource driving extinction can and should not be used to support conservation measures. 

I agree that we need to develop large funds to support conservation efforts in all areas of the world and for all endangered species and habitat; some of the more endangered have little intrinsic value available to drive support efforts and perhaps it is here where the fundraising strategy which I hope to discuss with you soon could be most effective. 

Unfortunately many in this world see nothing of value unless it can produce a profit. Wouldn’t it be great to turn this around in favour of natural resource management rather than bank balance management. 

I hope we can talk soon 

Steven Thompson


To:  John Varty 

You obviously supports the legal sale of Rhino horn and elephant ivory much to my surprise.  I have to strongly disagree with you.  There is not and never will be enough rhino horn and elephant ivory to satisfy the market for these products.  One-off sales have not worked in the past to stop the poaching.  They only feed the desire for more of the product.  The huge influx of Chinese workers into Africa have been instrumental in the increase of poaching.  The growing middle class in China has increased the markets for ivory and rhino horn.   

The only way to stop the poaching is to educate the Asian people.  I watched a documentary just recently where many Chinese were interviewed and asked if they knew that elephants are being killed to get the ivory the people are buying.  Most of them said they didn’t realize that and appeared shocked.  The world has to put pressure on the Asian governments – mainly China – to find a way to stop the desire for these products through mass education on TV, in schools etc.  plus serious punishment for those who are caught importing the product.   

What good will your plan do when they have sold all the horn, ivory and skins in the inventory?  The poachers will go out and get more because now the market has been stimulated even more so they have many more buyers.   

Advertising is a powerful tool.  Public service announcements and education worked in the U.S. to stop littering in the 60’s and substantially reduced drunk driving.  The same mass programs  could work to stop the Asians from buying horns and ivory.   

I am an admirer of the work you do in Africa but I believe you are wrong to promote one-off sales of ivory and horn. 


Judy Merrick


Morning John,

This morning (26 Sep), on the morning program Spektrum of RSG they had a talk with some guy from WWF advertising how many white rhino's we still have in South Africa and that we have nothing to worry about all this poaching as the rhino is now where near extinction.

I sms'ed them, but like normal they simply ignore us.

Maybe you can help? Just to bring it to their attention as to not putting this type of information out there as this will surely promote more poaching!

Friendly regards,


HI John

I agree

Kind Regards 

Derek Hutchings

Hi John. I assume that this is tongue in cheek. I cannot believe that you would be for the legalization of the rhino horn trade. We have both been in the wild life industry all our lives and have followed the trends. Encouraging trade in wild life products with the East has never had any  effect other than to feed their insatiable demand thus exponentially increasing the promotion of the illegal trades. Cheers Mike Gunn.

Hi John


Why on earth would you like to promote the auction/sale of these products? It will surely only encourage further need and greed for the products.


Surely we want to stamp out the senseless killing of all these animals.


Kind regards,


Kerry Boytell

John, excellent idea. Why is it always that the most obvious and simple solution to a problem is the least popular with elected governments? One can only shake their head and hope for the best.

Keep fighting John you are not alone.



This is thinking out the box!


Dear Mr John


I have read the below and I think you should make it a global event..... I am a very good friend of Johnny Leakey, brother of Richard.

Maybe you would like to go to the source of who did it back in Moi's day and get his view now looking back?

Still looking forward on seeing your place, your lovely cats and of course you....


P.S you birthday is on the same day as my dad. 27 Nov


Kind Regards


Hi JV:


Good idea for rhino horn.  Keep up the great work!



Michael Banks

A very good idea John. Perhaps someone could capture one of the rhino horn users, castrate him and turn his wimp member - because that is what it is if he has to ingest rhino horn to get it up (excuse the crudity) into powder and feed it to him. Unbelievable that grown men believe that the horn will help their sex life. How absolutely primitive. And last night they had more slaughtered rhino on the news. This time they were darted. Don't tell that the game rangers weren't involved. And these beautiful creatures - one of them was pregnant - lie silent and still - robbed of the many years of life which they should have had, and monstrous men can now get a hard-on. Excuse the crudity again but how else can one express.


So please do whatever you can to stop the decimation of this beautiful animal. I'm going to Hluhluwe next week and will enjoy seeing the rhino again. On my last visit in November 2011, they were either in mudbaths or walking around with a caked mud armour.

Best of luck with your endeavour.


Hello John Varty,  you seem to be on a crusade.First the P.M. of India (for tigers),

 and now John for the Rhinos.

I love it.

In 60's,when I was a medical practiotioner in Moshi.Tanzania,we used to have W/ end pinics in Tsavo.

There were herds of elephants in100's.and Black Rhinos allover. 

In 2004,we went to visit that Tsavo.After 100 miles in at Mazima Springs ,we saw 6 giraffes.

Thats all.


How about getting all the rhino horn traders together and then shooting them?   Who the hell are you people, you naturalists that would let a tiger cub die.  Get out of Africa

Jim Stewart

Hi JV,

Thank you for caring about the survival of my rhinos, I assure you that it means a lot to me.  I am petrified that when the poachers have finished the rhinos in the National Parks they will move to my dehorned rhinos and slowly wipe them out. 

Notwithstanding this and agreeing with everything you say I find myself without the courage to go your route.  I believe that the Government would have no option but to arrest me long before the auction and probably confiscate my horns which would tie us up in the courts for longer than I hope legalisation will take.  I assure you that I am doing everything that I can to get the trade in rhino horn legalised.  I would also like to assure you that if I did not own a single rhino I would still be absolutely convinced that legalisation and joining hands with our communities in rhino farming ventures is the only way to save our rhinos from extinction. 

My only wish is that the rest of the world could understand that the more you destroy horns or stop horns from getting to the consumers the more orders will go to the poachers and the longer we take to get our stock piles to the consumers the more orders will go to the poachers. 

Thank you again for your ideas on rescuing our rhinos and remember that the more rhinos we lose the more valuable each rhino that is rescued or bred becomes to the eventual survival of the species. So keep thinking.








Tread lightly on the Earth

Copyright 2007 @jvbigcats  All rights reserved

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