Since 2008, over 1 500 rhinos have been killed by poachers, and this number is rising rapidly each year. South Africa is home to about 80% of the planet’s rhinos, and as the intensity of rhino poaching increases, so does the danger of rhinos becoming extinct.
It is believed, mainly in Asian countries, that the rhino horn has magical healing properties and, when ground into a powder, can cure many ailments from vomiting to cancer. Rhino horn is composed of protein keratin, which is also the main component in fingernails, hair and animal hooves. Swiss global health-care company, Hoffmann-La Roche, conducted scientific evidence which proves that there are absolutely no changes in patients who have ingested rhino horn yet these traditional beliefs seem to hold strong. Rhino horn is being sold on the black market for $35 000 per kilogramme, Ronald M. Nowak writes in his book ‘Walker’s Mammals of the World’.
The rhino horn is a necessity for the rhino’s survival in the wild. It serves as a weapon of self-defense and to dig into the ground and uncover food. Mother rhinos use their horns to guide their babies around. The rhino horn is also very important when trying to attract a suitable mate.
The horns are removed from these animals in such a brutal way that it often leads to their painful death.
It is important to spread awareness about the plight of the rhinos by way of education and understanding. People need to understand these horns cannot be used to cure diseases. Even if they could, in this day and age, we have a great deal of medicine that would be a lot more effective. If we don’t spread the word and act now, we stand the risk of losing rhinos forever.
Please have a look at the links below and find out which of these many charity organisations you can contribute to. Any contribution, however big or small, will work towards saving the lives and legacy of these beautiful creatures.