New Treatment of Rhino Horns Makes Them Toxic To Humans
With 668 rhinos killed in South Africa last year, and already over 200 in 2013 it is safe to say the crisis has spiraled out of control. Everyone is searching for a solution to this global issue and the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association thinks they may have found it. The group has begun treating rhinos in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve with a chemical mixture of parasiticides and pink dye.
Why? Simple. The treatment of parasiticides helps protect the animal from parasites such as ticks. However, parasiticides are registered not to be consumed by humans. They are not lethal in small doses but can be quite toxic when ingested causing vomiting, severe nausea and convulsions.
The pink dye is intended to make it easier to track the horns if they have been poached. Airport x-ray scanners will be able to detect the dye even if the horn has been ground up.
This project originally began at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve and is viewed by them as "An out-of-the box solution to an out-of-control problem". This rhino protection method is starting to be adopted by various private game reserves across South Africa, and is seen as a proactive measure.
Reserves feel this 1-2 punch of making the horns toxic to humans and more trackable at the same time is the way forward. "The results have proved to be non-harmful to the rhinos, cost-effective, and an immediate and long-lasting solution for private game reserves which are seen as easy targets for poachers," said in a statement by Andrew Parker CEO of Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association.
Supporters of the program hope word will spread that these horns cannot be used by humans for their supposed medicinal purposes. It is believed in many Asian countries that rhino horn contains healing properties which of course is scientifically false."We are not aiming to kill the consumers, no matter what we think of them. We want to kill the illegal trade which is preying on our herds." - Parker