In Southern Africa in the 1970’s & 80’s, the white rhino and its smaller cousin, the black rhino, had been poached almost to extinction. This was due solely to the fact that when ground into powder, its horn is believed to hold medical powers, such as reducing fever. The latest claim is that it can even cure cancer. However, there have been inconclusive results from decades-long studies that rhino horn has any effect medically.
China banned rhino horn from being used as an ingredient in medicine, and Yemen stopped it being used in ceremonial dagger handles, and the rhino populations seemed to be on the rise.
In recent years though there has been a marked increase in poaching again, with more than 1000 rhinos slaughtered since 2006. The price of rhino horn – at the top end of the black market – can exceed that of cocaine and is twice the price of gold.
The entrepreneur turned game farmer (he has over 700 white & black rhinos on 2 farms in South Africa) John Hume believes that rhinos do not need to suffer and die to supply their horns. He says “We take wool from sheep, why not horn from rhinos?” Apparently if you cut the horn approximately 3” above its base, it grows back in around 2 years, with no harm done to the animal.
This poor black rhino bull had to be put to sleep after game scouts found it had been shot several times resulting in a shattered shoulder which meant it couldn’t support it’s own weight, and both its horns had been hacked off.
Read the National Geographic article.
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