Clinic Stories

Coming Soon – Rhinoceros Horns on Sale

Rhinoceros horns have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Demand, however, rose dramatically in 2008 when a Vietnamese politician, unwilling to admit that he went to a Western country for his successful cancer treatment, claimed the cure was from rhinoceros horns. As the price for a large horn reached $300,000, poaching and theft of rhinoceros horns skyrocketed. Despite international protections, rhinos are killed only to remove their horns. The last Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam was killed for it's horn. It is dangerous for people as well as rhinoceroses as game preserves mount armed patrols that shoot poachers on sight and poachers are willing to kill those who interfere with their work. Corruption compounds the problem. While it is illegal to fly over African game preserves to prevent spotting rhinoceroses, government and military aircraft routinely do so, then sell the information to poachers.

There is a plan in place to stop the slaughter but it requires making the sale of rhinoceros horns legal. For the past several years preserve owners have banded together to harvest and store horns. The rhinos are sedated and their horns are cut off. This makes the rhino worthless for poaching and when the horn regrows after a year or so it can be reharvested. A secure facility in South Africa is said to hold many tons of rhino horns. They are trying to reverse the ban on the sale of the horns so that these horns can be sold openly, reducing the price and removing the incentive to kill the rhinos.

For now the law designed to protect the rhinos is their greatest threat.

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