One hundred and thirty-five endangered South African rhinos have been poached so far in 2012. Demand for rhino horn in Asia, where superstitious beliefs have created a relentless trade, has increased rhino losses to an alarming level. In one area of Kruger wildlife park, 75 rhinos have been killed since January 1.
One possible explanation for the increase is the claim in Vietnam that rhino horn cures cancer, a claim that has no significant evidence. Rhino horn is made mostly of keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails and toenails. There is no magic cure for cancer that has been found, and killing rhinos is a tragic waste of life.
An Ohio University professor is studying rhino head anatomy to help determine humane ways of removing rhino horns from live rhinos to prevent poachers from doing so in a very destructive inhumane way. CT scans are done on the heads of deceased rhinos to gather data for the research.
“What the poachers want is that tusk. It would be bad enough if they just poached them and cut it off, but they’re not even doing that in a humane way. It’s not a clean cut. It’s like literally ripping, and the bone is connected onto the skull,” said the lead CT scanner. (Source: Athens News)
Rhinos in South African wild parks could be wiped out entirely in just several years if the current rate of loss remains constant.
Image Credit: Yoky, Wiki Commons