Dehorning Black Rhinos
Dehorning black rhinos helped save them from extinction in the early 1990s from poachers because the armed guards patrolling the National Parks did not prove to be effective. Another way to preserve the rhino is to find substitutes for the horns.
Black rhinos, also known as the hooked-lip rhino, were poached mainly for their horns in the early 1990s, which led to the rhinos near extinction. The black rhino once roamed the extent of Africa’s sub-continent. Now the rhinos are primarily found in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nimibia and Zimbabwe because of the demand for the horns. The rhino population has declined in those countries from 65,000 in the 1960s to 25,000 today (Rhino, Internet).
Rhino horns are used for pharmaceutical and ceremonial reasons in countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Thailand (Rhino, Internet).
Rhinos are also hunted for other reasons besides their valuable horns. The skin is used for skin disease, the bones are used for bone disorders, the blood is used for women with menstrual problems, and the penis is used as an aphrodisiac (Tudge, 1991, 34).
The main importing countries of rhino horn include South Korea, China, Thailand, and Taiwan. In 1987 China paid about $16,000 per kilogram, in 1988 South Korea paid $4,410 per kilogram, in 1990 Taiwan paid $4,221 and Thailand paid $10,284 per kilogram of horns (Rhino, Internet).
The Chinese have been using rhino horns for medical purposes for about 2,000 years to make remedies for flu, fever and convulsions (Tudge, 1991, 34). Chinese studies have shown that rhino horns reduce fevers in lab rats, but rhino horn does not compare to aspirin (Tudge, 1991, 38).
In Yemen the horns are carved into ceremonial dagger handles, also known as a jambiya, that men acquire after reaching manhood (Johannesburg, 1997). The country of Yemen imports 1,500 kilograms of horn each year, about half of which is used to fashion the dagger handles. Dagger handles would not seem to be a practical use because the horns are composed of hard protein and keratin compounded by hair, but when the horns are polished, they look like grained, dark, translucent, amber (Tudge, 1991, 34).
Dehorning is one method to prevent poachers from shooting a rhino. Dehorning, the process of removing the front and rear horns of a rhino (Wright, 1991, 36), is a simple procedure, although only trained professionals are allowed to practice it because of the safety for both the rhino and veterinarian. If the safety of both the rhino and the veterinarian is low, it is pointless to dehorn if the species is harmed (Atkinson, Internet). For maximum safety, veterinarians tranquilize the rhino with a tranquilizer dart fired from a rifle with the correct dosage for the size and weight of the rhino. Two veterinarians then use a handsaw or a chainsaw to cut just above the rhino’s snout to remove the horns. The veterinarians coat the remainder of the horn with tar to prevent...