Pink And Poisonous Rhino Horns May Deter Poachers

Pink and poisonous rhino horns are the latest effort by South American conservationists seeking to deter poachers.

Rhinos have long been an easy and profitable target for poachers. The animals, although immense in size and weight, can be a fairly easy kill as they frequently congregate at watering holes to quench their need for large amounts of water.

According to an article in Popular Science, the business of poaching and selling the rhinoceros horns is a lucrative one. Used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicines, the horns are typically ground into a powdered form and prescribed to alleviate convulsions and fever. There are also collectors that want the horns as a “prize or ornament.”

The Rhino Rescue Project is now trying unusual and innovative ways to diminish the poachers’ potential profits by making the horns unusable for those purposes.

The newest approach by the project is to infuse the rhinos’ horns with a dye similar to the ink packs used by banking institutions to secure money. The dye serves to color the horns a permanent shade of bright pink, which could make it aesthetically undesirable to poachers. The dye remains visible to airport scanners even if the horn has been ground into fine powder.

Business Insider reports that the process does not cause pain to the rhinos as their horns are comprised of keratin, the same substance as human fingernails and hair. The dye also does not cause the rhinos to incur any negative health effects.

The Rhino Rescue Project also wants to use the infusion process to make the horns poisonous. Ectoparasiticides, a type of poison, is completely harmless to the animal. However, the poison causes toxic reactions in humans ranging from extreme nausea to convulsions. This would eliminate the ability to use the rhino horn powder for medicines.

Last year 400 rhinos were savaged and killed in South America. Pink and poisonous rhino horns may deter poachers and the rising number of deaths.