Monday, April 25, 2011

Courtesy of Ryan Easley--How to stop rhino poaching - Poison rhino horns

Courtesy of Johnny Rodrigues - Chairman of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force

April 2011. Last week we reported the dehorning by poachers of a rhino in the Save Conservancy. The most horrifying aspect of this atrocity was that the mutilated rhino did not die in the attack and was left wandering around in agony. Coincidentally, as seen on the South African TV programme, Carte Blanche last Sunday, a very similar incident happened in South Africa recently where the horns were hacked out of a rhino and it was also left alive. The footage was extremely upsetting.

Dehorning - Limited success and other issues
Various methods are employed to try and prevent rhino from falling prey to poachers but the slaughter and maiming of this endangered species continues unabated. Dehorning is quite a popular method but this doesn't seem to deter the poachers. The rhinos endure a certain amount of stress in the dehorning exercise and once their horn has been removed, they no longer have that defence mechanism. In the case of female rhinos, when they give birth to a calf, they need the horn to help the newborn rhino to its feet. The other disadvantage of dehorning is that the horn grows back and the dehorning process has to be repeated on a regular basis throughout the rhino's lifetime.

Poisoning rhino horns
Instead of spending money on dehorning, we believe that the best and most cost effective way to minimize the poaching and try to prevent the extinction of the species is to administer poison to the horns. This was done by a farmer in South Africa and he says the poison, whilst deadly to humans, has no effect whatsoever on the rhino. This may seem like a drastic measure but the only way to prevent rhino poaching is to discourage people from buying it and it would only need to be done once to each rhino. Signs could be erected where rhinos are kept warning poachers that the horns are poisoned. Warnings could also be issued through media campaigns worldwide and the word would soon get around that consumption of rhino horn could prove fatal.

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