930 million rand
The demand is fueled by the middle eastern primitive idea that drinking ground up keratin (or the equivalent of fingernails and hair, since that is basically what the horn is made of) will cure a variety of ailments from snakebite to “devil possession”.
To be more accurate, the horn is made up of a similar structure to horses hooves, turtle beaks, and cockatoo bills. Scientific studies conducted have concluded that you are more likely to cure yourself of many of these ailments by chewing on your own finger-nails.
This is also not a unique South African problem. In Vietnam, the Javan rhino is classified by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, with only an estimated 60 animals left. Last year a rhino was found dead from a gunshot wound in Cat Tien National Park, with its horn cut off.
Ed Hern, owner of a Lion and Rhino park near Johannesburg, last year came up with an innovative solution that is sure to make people thing twice before drinking ground up rhino horn again. Injecting poison into the horns of his rhino, he was quoted as saying that “we need to try poisoning the horns with something like cyanide so when someone uses it for medicine they will die. I have started testing with a vet.”
While this is drastic, surely we need to start looking at drastic deterrents to this madness, and what more incentive could there be than death! Let them die I say.
Actively involved in the fight against poaching, Ed Hern pays private guards to protect his rhino, all orphans rescued after their mothers were slaughtered. He admits though that they are hardly a match against the sophisticated and high tech approach poachers are taking, often including the use of helicopters.