A rhino just three weeks old was rescued after poachers killed its mother in South Africa. They also hit the calf with a machete, thought the calf has no horn, and was not a danger to them. What kind of people hit a defenseless baby with a machete? Apparently the same kind that shoot innocent rhinos to remove their horns. A veterinarian who helped rescue the baby said, “Few people get so angry at the poachers like we do who work on the scene. It does not help that the poachers get caught, because they walk free.” (Source: Google.com)
He was referencing the fact that, though some laws are on the books to protect rhinos, if they are not enforced, they are worthless. This year in South Africa, rhino killings have increased with 287 so far. One protection strategy involves de-horning rhinos before poachers can get to them, to deter the killings but sometimes poachers kill them anyway out of spite, and to make sure they don’t waste their time hunting them again.
Rhino horn, though medically useless, is commanding such high prices that even horns from museums on stuffed rhinos are being stolen. A single gang in England is believed to be responsible for such thefts.
The devastation of rhinos for their horns, which have been proven scientifically to have no health benefits, is one of the modern era’s great tragedies, and it is mainly because of superstition.
Another strategy is educating the public about the fact that rhino horn doesn’t, and never did, have any magical or medical powers. The President of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) and President of Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), Lixin Huang has publicly said that rhino horn is no longer approved for use in traditional Chinese medicine. It was believed back in the 16th century that rhino horn could cure “devil possession” and hallucinations. Neither devil possession nor the effects of rhino horn on it have any evidence. And eating keratin, which is the same material as in fingernails, has no effect on hallucinations.
The question is, will there be a cure for a widespread cultural ignorance that is killing so many rhinos, (and other other species) they might be wiped out? Will the consumers who are wasting their money buying medically useless rhino horn ever realize how many innocent animals they have helped kill, and how much money was wasted at the same time?