Bangkok: Scientists are divided over whether the trade in rhinoceros parts should be legalized to halt the trafficking that threatens to push the species into extinction due to high demand for its horns by practitioners of traditional medicine across Asia.
Rhinoceros protection is one of the many issues being debated at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
CITES members decided last week to create a special committee to study the impact of poaching on rhinos.
Supporters of legal hunting contend that the ban on rhino horns that has been in place since 1976 has contributed to the creation of an illegal market that fuels poaching.
In 2012, 668 rhinos were hunted in South Africa, up 67 percent from the previous year, and 2013 is on track to be a record year, with 128 of the animals already killed, the South African government said.
A kg of rhino horn is going for $65,000 on the black market due to high demand from practitioners of traditional medicine in Vietnam, China and Thailand, as well as makers of hand-crafted daggers in Yemen.