Rhinos are Critically Endangered

rhinoceros-387224_1280One might ask why are rhinos so attractive to poachers that there has been such a jump in numbers killed? In South Africa in 2007 thirteen rhino were killed but in 2014 the number killed was 1215.

The answer to this question is not only the greed of the poachers (an average-sized horn can fetch up to $250,000 in Vietnam) but also the growth in wealth of the Asian middle class, primarily in China and Vietnam is contributing to the demand.

In the past, rhino horn was used for dagger handles in Yemen but now it is used primarily for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Today, in TCM, rhino horn is prescribed for nearly every sort of malady. In a translation of a Chinese medical book from 1597 BCE, rhino horn could deal with:

  • possession by the devil and keep evil spirits away,
  • nightmares from bewitching and hallucinations,
  • typhoid, feverish colds and headaches,
  • boils filled with pus and carbuncles,
  • delirium and intermittent fevers,
  • anxiety and fear,
  • blurred vision and liver ailments,
  • act as a sedative for the organs, a tonic and a reducer of fevers,
  • phlegm or excess mucus,
  • the “evil miasma of hill streams”,
  • dysentery and convulsions in infants,
  • food poisoning, violent vomiting, and overdoses of poisonous drugs,
  • the pain of arthritis,
  • melancholia and losing one’s voice.

Is there any truth to these and other claims made by practitioners of TCM? critically endangered rhinos

In studies done in 1983 by researchers at Hoffman-LaRoche, the global health-care company and in 1990 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that none of the claims made for the curative powers of rhino horn could be substantiated. Further research done 25 years later by Dr, Raj Amin of the Zoological Society of London, rhino horn has no medicinal properties.

Rhino horn, according to Dr. Raj Amin, was as useful as “chewing your own fingernails!”

Science vs. Wishful Thinking

Regardless of the fact that science has confirmed that rhino horn as medicine is a myth, millions of people still believe it can help their medical problems. People are now being told ground rhino horn taken in water can cure cancer and they believe this. Why?

Is it simply because these consumers of rhino horn are uninformed or stupid? Or, are there more sinister reasons the myths are kept going? Could it be that the sale of rhino horn is so profitable to the poachers and the other people like Boko Haram and other Al-Qaeda militants, etc. that beliefs in these myths is actually encouraged?

One thing is exceedingly clear: We must also ask the consumers of rhino horn if they feel they have the right to send a whole species into the oblivion of extinction through their use of the equivalent of “snake oil”.

We must make them understand and believe that rhino horn has does not have any medicinal properties that will help their physical ailments if we are to have any chance of keeping what is left of the rhinos of Africa and Asia.

Check out these videos for some rather harrowing information:


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