The Real Story
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The rhino has no predator in the African bush besides man.
For centuries these majestic creatures have fallen prey to man's greed. They are killed as trophies, as well as for the mythical properties of their horn, which is highly valued in the Far East as a staple of traditional Chinese medicine.
The killing has moved south over the last few decades, almost driving the black
rhino to extinction. It has also concentrated the white rhino population in
South Africa, where park rangers are waging war on the poaching syndicates.
Poachers in South Africa move in organized groups and are well armed. Park
rangers have limited means of protecting the Rhino and themselves from the
poachers. Violence is on the rise and the slaughter of the African Rhino
continues. We must take action in order to save the Rhino before it is too
Rhino Poaching Defined
poaching[ poh - ching ]
- the illegal practice of trespassing on another's property to hunt or steal game without the landowner's permission
- any encroachment on another's property, rights, ideas, or the like
Subsistence poaching is rarely the case when it comes to the rhino. Subsistence poachers poach to get food, or to sell the poached animal for a small amount of money in order to buy food. They are driven by poverty and hunger.
Commercial poachers poach as a money-making venture. They are not driven by the need to survive–but by a desire of a massive financial gain. Also known as structured poaching, commercial poaching is responsible for the majority of poached rhinos. Commercial poachers often operate in well organised groups and often have ex-military background. These criminals operate with no morals using any and all means. When it comes to the Rhino, poachers often only remove the horn.
Trophy poachers poach to make enormous profit through trading in endangered species. They are driven by sheer greed.
Rhino and Medicinal Beliefs
Rhino horn has been an essential ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Despite China being a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and banning trade in rhino horn and its derivatives in 1993, current rhino poaching levels suggest that the use of rhino horn continues unabated in traditional medicine markets.
In an effort to educate the public about the alleged curative properties of rhino horn, several scientific studies have been commissioned.
Testing was carried out in 1983 by researchers at Hoffmann-LaRoche, and followed up 25 years later with a study at the Zoological Society of London. Both studies arrived at the same conclusion: Rhino horn contains no medical properties. Additionally, research conducted in 1990 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong was unable to produce evidence to support the wild claims of rhino horns “curative” power.
In a 2006 report commissioned by DEFRA (UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs) and IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), both rhino horn and substitute plants were investigated. Rhino horn did not demonstrate anti-bacterial or anti-inflammatory properties, whereas most of the herbs selected demonstrated some anti-bacterial activity and/or potential anti-inflammatory properties. The report identified nine potential botanical alternatives to rhino horn, based on tests conducted and evidence from published TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).
The usefulness of rhino horn as a medicine was also debunked by scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who published their findings in the research study, “Ethnopharmacology of Rhinoceros Horn. I: Antipyretic Effects of Rhinoceros Horn and Other Animal Horns.” Although fever-induced rats showed temporary lowering of temperature after being injected with an extremely high concentration of rhino horn extract, there was no antipyretic effect at the dosage levels comparable to what would be prescribed to a human patient.