South African rhino’s horns to be poisoned to stop poaching

August 1st, 2010 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 1 (IANS) A South African wildlife sanctuary plans to inject the horns of its rhinos with poison to prevent poachers from hunting the animal.
Ed Hern, owner of the Rhino and Lion Reserve near Johannesburg, hopes the measure will deter poachers who have killed more than 150 of the animals this year, Sky New reported Sunday.

“The aim would be to kill, or make seriously ill anyone who consumes the horn. If someone in China eats it and gets violently sick, they are not going to buy it again,” Hern said.

Powdered rihno horns are believed in China to have aphrodisiac qualities. Increasing demand from China is blamed for a wave of rhino poaching across South Africa’s private and public game reserves.

Scientific research, however, has proved that the keratin in rhino horns, the same substance as human hair and nails, has no medicinal value.

The animals, including rare black rhino, are being slaughtered at the rate of two or three a week for their horns which can fetch up to 45,000 pounds in the black market.

Hern’s plan to poison the horns of his herd of white rhino has caused consternation among some conservationists but, he said, the animals will not be harmed.

“We are experimenting by injecting a little of the substance every day into one of the rhino, and monitoring him carefully for any side effects,” he said.

“It may seem outrageous, but what’s really outrageous is the sight of a dead rhino with its horn sawn off,” he added.

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