Given the epidemic of rhino poaching across Africa and Asia, which has placed four out of five species in jeopardy of extinction, one fed-up game manager wants to take the fight beyond the poachers to the consumer. Ed Hern, owner of the Lion and Rhino Park near Johannesburg, told South Africa’s The Times that he has begun working with a veterinarian on injecting poison into a rhino’s horn to consumers. He told The Times that people who consumed poisoned rhino horn “would get very sick or die”.
Unlike the consumer, the rhino likely wouldn’t be hurt by the poison, since their was no blood flow from the horn into the rest of the animal. Still Hern was watching his test rhino to make sure it wasn’t showing symptoms.
Hern has been warned by unnamed lawyers that he could get “into a lot of trouble” if someone is harmed by ingesting rhino harm that was poisoned.
Banned worldwide by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rhino horn is used as a traditional curative in Chinese medicine. While scientific studies have shown that rhino horn has no medicinal properties, it remains in high demand fueling the violent and illegal trade of rhino poaching.
In the last six months, South Africa has lost 124 rhinos to poachers. Ed Hern—on the frontlines of the poaching battle—has taken in five rhino orphans whose mothers were killed. Hern pays private guards to protect his rhinos, but says they are no match against the hi-tech equipment, including helicopters, used by the wildlife trafficking mafia.
Rhino horn consumption recently made news after supermodel and host of Britain’s Next Top Model, Elle Macpherson, said in an interview that she consumed powdered rhino horn, because “it works for me”. She has since claimed that despite the statement, she had never knowingly taken a substance from an endangered species and her comments were “banter with an interviewer”.
(07/02/2010) Despite a number of scientific studies showing that rhino horn has no curative properties, supermodel, entrepreneur, and recent host of Britain’s Next Top Model, Elle Macpherson, says she ingests powdered rhino horn because: ‘[it] works for me’. In an interview with The Sunday Times via Twitter, Elle Macpherson says the illegal substance tastes like ‘crushed bone and fungus’.
(06/14/2010) A forest guard (i.e. ranger) in Orang National Park paid the ultimate price for protecting wildlife last week. Hassan Ali was found with two bullets in his stomach after being kidnapped by four men allegedly connected to poaching operations targetting the park.
(05/11/2010) Poachers have killed a Javan rhino in Vietnam for its horn according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). With only an estimated 60 individuals left the Javan rhino is the world’s rarest and classified by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. The rhino was found dead from a gunshot wound and its horn cut off in Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam.