$300,000 for rhino horn that does NOTHING

The rhino is doomed thanks to ridiculous notions about health. It makes me feel sick.

We’ve been covering various stories of Traditional medicinals that use endangered animals for their parts that supposedly have magical qualities. They don’t. They do make the rhinos disappear though.

There’s a country that will pay $300,000 per rhino horn to cure cancer and hangovers, and it’s wiping out rhinos – Quartz.

It was in most respects a typical heist that happened in Dublin last month. Masked men, roughed-up security guards, $650,000 in stolen booty. But this wasn’t art or jewelry that was stolen. The contraband, instead, was four rhinoceros heads. Or, more specifically, their horns.

What is driving this “highly organized” crime ring?

If you guessed “China,” you were wrong. The answer is Vietnam. The country’s appetite for rhino horn is so great that it now fetches up to $100,000/kg, making it worth more than its weight in gold.

Rhino horn is also popular among some public officials. ”I can drink a lot of alcohol but I am still sober and strong. I don’t have a headache and I do not feel tired,” Tran Huy Tu, a senior policeman, told AFP, apparently fearless of any consequences. “It’s not legal to buy this stuff, but in Vietnam you can buy anything with money.”

Appalling and false. Originally, rhino horn was touted as a cure for cancer which is a big problem in the country where conventional treatment is not readily available. People resort to folk cures. But it appears the draw for the illegal product (that consists of keratin, that which makes up your nails and hair), is for:

 …a cocaine-like party drug, virility enhancer and luxury item—”the alcoholic drink of millionaires,” as a Vietnamese news site called it.

Also today, on NPR: Can Economics Save The African Rhino? : Planet Money 

This piece discusses the three options being consider to possibly save the rhino: Legalize horn and harvest it without killing animals. Or, burn it and devalue it entirely. Finally, poison the horn so that people who use it become ill. The options are weighed. However it simply may be too late for the creature whose numbers are crashing every year as more animals are taken.

  5 comments for “$300,000 for rhino horn that does NOTHING

  1. May 15, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    The new extinction level event: Ignorance and greed.

  2. Nos482
    May 16, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    If I had anything to say, we’d have ‘Poacher Season’ right now.

  3. May 16, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    Wasn’t there a program somewhere a few years ago where government hunters were tranquilizing rhinos and cutting off their horns to protect them from poachers?

  4. One Eyed Jack
    May 16, 2013 at 4:29 AM

    At these prices you know there has to be a huge amount of adulteration in the market. So, not only is the actual rhino horn completely ineffective, I suspect a large percentage that is sold is not even rhino horn (or greatly diluted).

    I can think of a dozen sources for substitutes that would be indistinguishable short of genetic testing. Curse my ethics that keep me from cashing in.

  5. Eisbein
    May 17, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    The problem is, that those countries in which rhinos occur naturally are not in the position to deal with the poaching problem directly, as it would be very costly. How do you convince your people, that it would be better to spend hundreds of miilions on a anti poaching program if your own population lives in poverty and has no access to even basic services like healthcare or education. In my view the extinction of the rhino can only be prevented if the global comunity and not only the country in which the animal is poached, steppes up and puts money where their mouth is to either put meaningful pressure on countries like vietnam to stop that practice or throw money at preventing poaching in those african countries.

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