From 26 November it was declared legal to trade in rhino horn in South Africa, but a local rhino whisperer disagrees.
This came after the High Court in Pretoria set aside government’s 2009 ban on domestic trade in rhino horn.
Read here: Pregnant rhino poached – humans take action
Those supporting the move argue it is the only way to prevent the otherwise-inevitable extinction of the animals,” the Citizen newspaper reported.
Yet Lorinda Hern, co-founder of the Rhino Rescue Project, believes there is another way to help save the rhino before the species is extinct.
Lorinda’s interest in the rhino poaching crisis was prompted by a poaching incident on her family’s property in 2010. She decided to partner with Dr Charles van Niekerk, who was already investigating rhino horn infusion, what the project is about, when she approached him in 2011.
The point of the project is to lover the value of horns from the buyer’s perspective. Meaning that poachers will have no reason to kill a rhino for its horn if the horn is contaminated.
“To devalue the horn, it is treated by infusing it with a compound made up of ectoparasiticides and indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental or medicinal use,” Lorinda said.
To understand the process better, click here.
Lorinda and her team wanted to save rhinos, horns still intact.
“A rhino’s horn is a valuable tool to the animal. They use it to feel the depth of water and to defend their territories. Without a horn, it is not really a rhino,” she explained.
Since 2011, the project has infused 300 rhino horns, where only seven either died of old age or were poached. Yet, the project was not welcomed everywhere.
“Those interested in eventually selling rhino horns were against the project because they felt it was a bad investment to contaminate something they could later sell,” she said.
Lorinda still believes it is not a question of being for the trade of rhino horns or against it, it is about being for the survival of rhinos.
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