Yemen's attitudes towards rhino horn and jambiyas

Lucy Vigne, Esmond Martin


In 1990 the Marxist government of the south that had banned civilians from possessing weapons, including the jambiya dagger, was ousted. South Yemen united with North Yemen to form one country. Were more people in the south going to emulate the northerners and buy jambiyas once again? Having not been in the southern region since 1993, we surveyed five main southern towns in early 2008 to see if influences from
the north had encouraged the southerners to wear jambiyas in ecent years. In many ways the southerners are emulating the northerners: they have shed Marxism in favour of capitalism and there has been an increase in traditional Islamic practices, but they still look down on jambiyas. However, the dagger is still a proud sign of being a northern tribesman, and Sanaa remains the centre of the jambiya industry - with rhino horn
most favoured for handles; Taiz trails a distant second in mportance. We learned more about the attitudes of Yemenis, especially from the younger more prosperous men in Sanaa who are likely to buy a rhino horn jambiya. And we increased public awareness on the plight of the rhino, distributing DVDs on Yemen’s rhino horn trade and supplying other educational materials to Yemenis in Sanaa and Taiz.

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