To combat poaching, chemical makes rhino horns toxic

In S.Africa poaching fight, chemical makes rhino horns toxic.

A South African game reserve has developed a treatment for rhino horns that is safe for the animals but causes convulsions and headaches to people who consume them, a wildlife group said Wednesday.

The potion is a mixture of drugs used to kill parasites on the rhinos, and includes a dye that turns even finely ground horns neon pink when seen by airport scanners, Rhino and Lion Reserve spokeswoman Lorinda Hern told national news agency SAPA.

Credit: @TetZoo (Darren Naish) on Twitter

Rhinos are killed because the horn is prized on the black market for carving and for medicinal purposes. Tests have shown the horn has no medicinal value. See this article from National Geographic. Three rhino species are critically endangered. Rhinos can have their horns removed if tranquilized and done correctly to prevent the animals death.

Despite being an essential ingredient in traditional chinese medicine for centuries, prescribed for nearly EVERYTHING (not an aphrodisiac as commonly mentioned), on September 9, the Register of Chinese Medicine in the UK denounced use of rhino horn – a promising step. Yet, superstitious thinking is hard to combat in areas where education is far removed from the entrenched traditional belief systems.

This seems a tricky method to discourage use of rhino horn which will require the death of more animals before it becomes effective.


Editor and owner of Doubtful News. Writer, specializing in science and society, science policy and education.