A Tribute to Spencer the Rhino - May His Death Not Be In Vain
The Lion and Rhino Reserve in Johannesburg, South Africa, formed the Rhino Rescue Project after the loss of a cow and her calf to poachers earlier last year. The project is meant to be a proactive solution against poaching. They hoped to dissuade the poachers from hunting the animals by injecting a perfectly safe insecticide in the rhinos’ horns, rendering the ‘product’ unsafe for human consumption. The injected dye is also detectable by scanners at airports, and recently trained sniffer dogs, regardless if the horns are transported whole or in powder form. These measures were set in place to stop the horns from being traded out of Africa as the ramifications could be deadly for the consumers.
Spencer was the rhino chosen to undergo the operation in front of the media earlier this month, and sadly, Spencer died.
So where does this leave the project? But more importantly, why was there need to go to such measures in the first place?
Rhino horn trade has increased considerably since 2006, each year bringing more killings than the year before. The most pervasive use of rhino horn is in Asian countries such as China, Malaysia and South Korea, but also in India and Vietnam. The main use for Rhino horn in these countries is for its perceived medicinal value. Ancient medicinal practitioners have prescribed ground rhino horn for every malady under the sun, from headaches to snake bites, hallucinations, vomiting, nausea and even devil possession!
Despite the intensive research conducted back in the 1990’s, which concluded that the rhino horn had no medicinal value whatsoever; there has been a recent claim in Vietnam that rhino horn was a cure for cancer. The demand for the horns exploded, and this claim is said to be responsible for the sudden increase in poaching. Horns were even reported stolen from museums all across Europe, including the London Museum of Natural History. The museum however had replaced the actual horns with plastic replicas after being warned of possible robberies. The plastic horns were stolen a few days later!Continued on the next page