Rhinos – a horny problem

By Brendan Moyle 18/03/2015


The poaching crisis in rhinos in fact, dwarfs that of elephants at the moment.  The rapid increase in poaching of rhinos since 2008 has mirrored other species.  Unlike elephants however, there is no ‘one-off’ sale to blame.  In fact, the restrictions on the export of horns in the form of hunting trophies seems coincident with the increase.


Figure linked to TRAFFIC

Which leads into a pet-peeve of mine. This is the myth that will not die.  This is the myth that rhino horn is used as an aphrodisiac in Traditional Asian Medicines.  It is  not. Rhino horn has had two main uses. One is as dagger handles (jambaliya) in the Arabian peninsular.  The other is as a treatment of ‘hot’-diseases in Asian medicine.  These include fevers (rhino-horn is believed to be an anti-pyretic) and now, possibly cancer.  Not that it really does either.  Anyway, this information has been known for years.


White Rhinos- Kenya. From 2014.

Middle-aged impotent Chinese men are not the drivers of rhino-poaching. Promulgating this myth, is not helpful. It plays on a racist stereotype. This is not helpful. It does not go down well in China.

It also wastes resources. For example, part of my work on the tiger black-market in 2008, was diverted to ‘investigate’ the aphrodisiac market. Because it was believed that tigers were being poached for their penises. Because everybody “knew” that middle-aged, impotent Chinese men were the reason tigers were being poached. So time and money was spent investigating err, “sex shops” in China for tiger penises (oh my eyes, my poor poor eyes). Simply to prove what we already knew. That tigers were being poached for the skins and their bones instead. The little blue-pill is much more popular for impotent men.

 

 


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