I found out an extremely important fact today about rhino horns. But before I get to it, let’s look at some interesting rhino facts to get to know this species and appreciate it. And then look at why it is being hunted to the brink of extinction…
The name rhinoceros comes from the Greek words rhino, which means nose, and ceros, which means horn. Rhinos look very prehistoric to me. That makes sense since they have been around for over 50 million years! There are five species of rhinos. Two live in Africa (white and black rhinos – they are both actually grey) and three live in South-Asia (Javan, Sumatran, and Greater one-horned rhinos). Rhinos are big. The white rhino is the largest mammal on land after the elephant. It can weigh over 7700 lbs! As large as they are, they are herbivores. Another cool fact: The oxpecker is a bird that helps the rhino by eating bugs on its skin. And the oxpecker will call out to the rhino when danger is approaching. Fascinating! Oh, and if you save an orphan rhino, it can be quite cuddly!
The black, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos are all listed as critically endangered (50% chance of becoming extinct in three generations). The Javan rhino is the world’s rarest land mammal. There are less 50 left! The rhino is being hunted for its splendid horn. It suffers an agonizing death – it is shot, its horn is sliced off, and then it is left to bleed to death… Increasing markets in China and Vietnam are driving the demand. The horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat things such as fever, headaches, and terminal illnesses. It is also used for trivial things such as hangovers and aphrodisiacs. And owning a horn is seen as a status symbol.
So here is the extremely important fact that I found out today: Rhino horns are made of keratin – the same substance that make up our fingernails and hair. So it is no more a medicinal remedy than our own nails and hair. That’s right, it has NEVER been proven that the horn has any medicinal properties at all. So why kill a magnificent endangered animal for NO reason? (There will never be a good reason in my mind.) It is time to turn the tide on these dangerously lethal and misinformed cultural traditions.
How can you help? Keep spreading the word! And see my “Be a Hero! Take Action!” tips in my website’s sidebar. And you can help via these two organizations dedicated to saving the world’s rhinos: savetherhino.org and wildaid.org. Together, let’s protect our rhinos – now.
(Sources: savetherhino.org; livescience.com; wildaid.org)