There is considerable debate in the literature over whether or not to legalise the trade in rhino horns. Here a system dynamics model is developed that considers five components: rhino abundance, rhino demand, a price model, an income model and a supply model. The study indicates the importance of shifting from a conventional (sectoral) conservation model to a more non-conventional (sustainable) approach that models the interactions between the different components. While the results under the no trade scenario are similar for both the equilibrium and disequilibrium model, under the trade scenario results were sometimes quite disparate. This study finds that sometimes second best solutions from an economic perspective may be optimal if conservation interests are to be achieved.