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 Times Online via Twitter, Elle Macpherson says the illegal substance tastes like “crushed bone and fungus”.
The consumption of rhino horn, which financially underpins illegal poaching, is both the historic and current driver behind rhino decline worldwide, and in the cases of four subspecies: complete extinction.
As well, currently four of the world’s five rhino species are threatened with extinction, three of these species are considered Critically Endangered. There are less than 50 adult Java rhinos in the world and less than 250 adult Sumatran rhinos.
After having its horn cut off by poachers an Indian rhino slowly dies. Photo by: Bibhab Talukdar of Aaranyak of Assam.
Rhinos are usually killed for their horns, which don’t grow back for “re-harvesting”.
Poaching hit a 15-year-high last year to keep up with demand for rhino horn. Poachers usually shoot or tranquilize the animal before sawing off its horn. Rhinos often die from bleeding to death.
However poaching doesn’t only impact rhinos, rangers who protect them are sometimes in the line of fire: last month a ranger in India was kidnapped by a group of poachers and murdered with two bullets in his stomach.
Powdered rhino horn, such as Elle MacPherson uses, is not cheap: last year one kilo was worth approximately $60,000, nearly $20,000 more than a kilo of gold.
While there have been discussions of legalizing the trade in order to draw down the price of rhino horn and use the proceeds for conservation, for now the sale or purchase of rhino horn products is banned worldwide by the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Mongabay.com contacted Elle MacPherson’s office for a comment, but did not hear back.
Section of interview with Elle MacPherson on rhino horn from The Sunday Times:
Witter: You’re said to be a great fan of Chinese medicine. What does powdered rhino horn taste like?
E MacP: A little bit like crushed bone and fungus in a capsule. Does the job though.
Witter: How do you know that it works? A lot of people say Chinese medicine is quackery.
E MacP: Put it this way, works for me.
Witter: Did you find your nickname “The Body” offensive? Sexist?
E MacP: Brilliant name. I trademarked it and built a business out of it. What part of that is sexist?
Source: Bush Warriors
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