|Rhinos have been decimated by poaching. Credit: USFWS|
People don’t often think about it, but even sales of antiques made from endangered plants or animals can hurt the survival of those species. Antiques can raise demand for similar products, which really just feeds the destruction of those animals.
A global black market hungers for rhino horn – an NBC report last year estimated the value of rhino horns at $25,000 a pound. They are used in Asian medicines on the misguided notion that they cure diseases, even cancer … of course, no scientific evidence supports that they really do any of that. Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same stuff that makes up hair and fingernails. They are also a sought-after carving material for ceremonial dagger handles and libation cups.
Poaching numbers for rhino jump every day, it seems. Wildlife authorities reported a rhino “death toll” of 668 for South Africa alone in 2012, a level of illegal take that translates roughly into a rhino being killed every 12 or so hours. This year, it’s even worse. As of April 3, 203 rhinos have already been poached in South Africa in 2013.