Is rhino horn really the best medicine?
If you kill the last there will be no more rhino horn
The lucrative market for rhino horn is booming but may soon end
What if somebody killed the last rhinoceros on earth? Then all the people who made money out of selling rhino horn would be out of business. The so-called medicinal powers that imbued patients with a new lease of life would no longer be available - at any price. The rhino horn trade is about to self-sabotage itself into oblivion. Making a business out of an unsustainable resource is not only short-sighted - it is downright cruel to innocent animals who have a horn that is made out of the same material as your own hair and fingernails.Credit: Sue Visser
Here is a rhino living in a pen at the Sydney zoo. He still has a horn. Most rhinos in captivity now have the horns removed and replaced with a prosthesis to sto poachers from stealing the horns an dkilling the rhino. Even the horn of a stuffed rhino at the Smithstonian institute was stolen. no wonder the real thing is worth US $ 300 000!
Rhino horn is made of keratin that is like hair and fingernails
If the composition of rhino horn is similar to compressed hair and fingernails then why is there not a thriving market for human hair and fingernails? It is true that powdered rhino horn is taken as a remedy for pain, inflammation, fever, cancer or colds and flu? People pay a small fortune for this hallowed medicine. Is there is no way of comparing its claimed healing powers to those of finger nails and hair? How do these perform in double-blind placebo-based trials? We know that anti-depressant drugs like Prozac are 90 times less effective than sugar pills! It is strange but true, that a depressed person enjoys taking something from a doctor - even a sugar pill.
If the mind can cure the body by manifesting the imagined effects of rhino horn (especially when it costs a fortune) we don't actually need a physical bottle of the powdered rhino horn medicine. The body manifests what the mind believes, regardless of the medication to a degree in all forms of medicine. That is why placebo trials have to be considered for evaluating all the drugs on the medical circuit. People get well, even on the blank sugar pills or icing sugar. So obviously we have to conclude that it is the bottle, the label and the price of the medicine that can trick the mind.
“Rhino horn is of no use to anyone except the original owner. You would get the same effect from chewing your own fingernails.” (Dr Arne Schiotz of WWF.)
The healing effects of rhino horn, even when it was contaminated!
I was watching one of the videos on the medicinal use of rhino horn in the East. Here it is highly prized as a medicine, especially when other remedies have failed. The underground dispensary works overtime in the back streets of Asian cities like Hanoi in Vietnam. Money changes hands at alarming rates and the trade of powdered rhino horn is booming. It grows in proportion to the prohibition of rhino horn poaching because the demand for a declining resource inflates the price. The powdered rhino horn is bought at a ransom and used more and more to heal the sick, to lower their fever and boost their immunity. In Vietnam it is a popular cure for a hangover.
Hidden cameras showed how journalists posing as innocent people wanting a cure for cancer were ushered into private houses and given the medicine. The powder was mixed with water and sometimes other ingredients and given to the patient to drink. The vendors said it could cure diseases better than most modern drugs. (So can placebos.) We are then shown the analysis of the exorbitantly priced rhino horn powder. Some of them contained a large amount of other types of horn such as antelope and cattle. This all helps to swell the purses of dishonest traders. The current price for pure rhino horn is increasing due to the demand.
Rhino horn now costs more than US $ 45 000 - US $ 100 000 per kilogram
Credit: Andre Du PreezScarcity inflates the price and every year the number of poached rhinos increases, despite efforts to protect them. Campaigns like “Save the Rhino Campaign” mean well. They featured Skydiving with celebrities to raise funds to boost awareness (or personal revenue) about rhino poaching. It is very expensive to protect our remaining South African rhinos. 85% of the rhino horns are supplied via the South African black market. The average horn weighs about 3 kg and can fetch a price of US $ 300 000! Money talks and rhinos die. Rhinos don't reproduce easily or often enough to replace their dwindling numbers. There is no market for the rest of their anatomy. In South Africa some conservationists are trying to farm with rhinos, removing their horns to keep them alive. But even so, this produces more keratin for the booming illegal market. For useless keratin that could easily be obtained from cow's horns or fingernails.
Look after the cattle industry so you can kill and eat.
But what about rhinos? Two wrongs don't make a rhino.
The bodies of dead rhinos without horns are a familiar target for photographers. Journalists and well-meaning folk circulate pictures of their bloody hornless profiles. Pathetic lifeless creatures, left to feed the vultures while their horns make their way on aircraft to meet the demands of people who crave their horns. People who have no regard for other creatures who share our planet and innocently eat grass and leaves to produce a horn that is abused as a cure for a hangover in Vietnam. George Bernard Shaw was a vegetarian who said: " animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends." In Vietnam you can slaughter a cow and eat it with your friends. Then you can take some powder made from the horn of a slaughtered rhino to cure your hangover.
Rhino horn exhibits no medicinal properties.
Dr. Raj Amin of the Zoological Society of London confirmed what had been found by Hoffmann-LaRoche researchers: Rhino horn has no medicinal properties.
“There is no evidence at all that any constituent of rhino horn has any medical property. Medically, it’s the same as if you were chewing your own fingernails,” says Dr. Amin.The 1983 edition of the Environmentalist stated that “rhino horn, like fingernails, is made of agglutinated hair and has no analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmolytic nor diuretic properties. No bactericidal effect could be found against suppuration and intestinal bacteria.”
The law of signatures is also based on imagination: As a source of ingredients used in traditional Asian medicine for 2,000 years, everything has a purpose. They use associations that relate to size, temperature, colour and so on to enhance the alleged credibility of the prescribed substance. The horn is used for for alleviating fever, the skin for treating skin diseases (what a tough skin!), the penis as an aphrodisiac, the bones are used to treat bone problems - yes, osteoporosis, and the blood "as a tonic for women who are suffering from menstrual problems". We have plenty of plants and minerals that do the same and a lot more.Credit: Sue Visser
According to modern Chinese doctors, the use of an aspirin or the herbal equivalent is more effective than rhino horn as a painkiller or to reduce a fever.
An inert substance yet an imagined panacea.
The law of Hippocrates states that we “first do no harm". Yet we take a medicine that harms a rhino and they will soon be extinct if people keep on using this "medicine." Are there any herbal alternatives? Of course there are - ginger and olive leaf, for instance are no match for rhino horn. so what is the problem? It has to do with the placebo effect, the enhanced picture in the mind of a powerful beast. The rhino horn symbolises power and strength - properties you need to generate a mental picture of fighting a disease. A slice of fresh ginger can wipe out a virus, nausea or a hangover more effectively than most mainstream drugs. It also helps to thin the blood and prevent blood from clotting. We have proof of this and ginger is cheap, easy to grow and pleasant to take. But it does not cost US $ 100 000 per kg. (Ginger doesn't have a horn - so it won't do!)
A world without rhinos - no more inert horns to use as "medicine"
How can we protect our gentle grass-eating rhinos of the grasslands? We need to address the cause - the demand for rhino horn that is not even medically justified. There is obviously nothing wrong with making use of a horn that was taken from a rhino that died of natural causes. But people get so hyped up about the mystique and the imagined attributes of the horn that the demand has increased. The horn was used to initiate African virgins in days of old during primitive ceremonies. The handles of Yemen daggers called khanjar were made of rhino horn until it was successfully forbidden. That was a battle well won and when we visited Oman, the neighbouring state recently there was no sign of any rhino horn on the curved daggers on sale.
Let's go viral about the toxic effects of rhino horn - find a new panacea!
Where there is a demand, a supply will relentlessly be pursued. The rhinos will not be safe until the myths and lies associated with rhino horns are busted. This is not an expensive thing to do but humans are not easily convinced and a belief system is difficult to overturn. I feel it is important to tell the whole world the truth about rhino horns. They are made up out of keratin and it is medically inert. This can be demonstrated on TV or You Tube and twittered and shared on Facebook and popular social media outlets! Tell doctor Oz and Oprah. Let it go viral - rhino horn is medically inert. We could even come up with a story about toxins or viral DNA imprints they have impregnated into rhino horn. Eek - a rhinovirus! When the collective mind is won over the demand will collapse. Olive leaves could easily serve as a genuine panacea - but they are too cheap. But they are worth adding to the medicine chest!
Please help to expose the great lie about the healing and esoteric properties of compressed Credit: Andre Du Preezrhino hair, simply known as keratin and suggest herbal alternatives that really do work. Chewing your own fingernails is equally ineffective. Powdered rhino horn can be DNA tested to identify the rhino so that the source can be identified.
If rhino horn really worked then people who chew their own fingernails would have a more compassionately sourced remedy. No cancer, no hangovers, no colds and flu. Take your hair and fingernails as medicine. It is equally useless but it does not cost a fortune and it does not kill the last rhino.
Have you ever torn the base of a fingernail or injured your fingertips?
Imagine the pain a live rhino experiences when they rip off the horn.