Hunting and poaching Hunting by European settlers was the main cause of the decline of rhino populations in Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Reports of five or six rhinos being killed in one day by single hunting, for food, or just for fun, were common. By the 1890s, southern white rhino numbers had declined from no more than 100, and by the 1960s to fewer than individuals and 70,000 northern white rhinos to about 2000 individuals.
Although there is no scientific evidence that such treatments are effective, and despite increased surveillance and law enforcement, poachers continue to kill animals specifically for horns. Additionally, in the 1970s and 1980s in the Middle East, there was a growing demand for rhinoceros horn dagger handles used as status symbols. This, combined with a 20x price increase of Rhino Horn, has had a devastating impact on Rhino populations. Although demand for rhino dagger hilts began to decline in the mid-1980s, the trade is believed to still exist.
Poaching for luxury goods
In general, the horn of rhinoceros killed in East Africa ends in Yemen, where it is made into decorative dagger handles (jambiyas), while rhino horn killed in southern Africa finds its way to the Far East, where it is used in traditional medicine. Although Jambiyas may have handles made from a variety of materials such as precious metals, buffalo, or plastic, and maybe embellished with gemstones.
Poaching of rhinos for use as jambiyas first became a major problem in the 1970s when OPEC pushed up oil prices in Saudi Arabia and increased demand for Yemeni workers, who sent huge sums of money to Yemen, of which part was spent on buying expensive Jambiyas.
Demand for rhino horns skyrocketed, leading to a sharp decline in rhino populations. After a few years of some decline in the late 1990s, rhino poaching picked up again in both Africa and Asia. In East and Central Africa, poaching of both black and southern white rhinos (the latter an introduced subspecies) experienced a resurgence in Kenya from 2001 and virtually or effectively wiped out the northern white rhino in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Since 1978, Esmond Martin has been investigating the illegal trade in rhino horn between East Africa and Yemen; 1983 with his colleague Lucy Vigne. They made trips about every two years, monitoring the black market for rhino horn, supply chains, illegal workshops, and the buyers of the finished jambiyas.
Almost all of the rhino horns that entered Yemen between 1998 and 2002 came from rhinos killed in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Poaching was low in East Africa in the late 1990s, but in 2002 Kenya experienced its worst poaching in over 12 years.
Horn price has increased from US$519 to 650 per kilo when exported from Kenya, to US$750 per kilo on arrival in Djibouti and US$1,200 per kilo on arrival in Sanaa. In 2002, the Yemeni government enacted legislation to implement the CITES that prohibits the trade in rhino horn and has its own dedicated staff protection of wild animals, the Environmental Protection Agency has improved. Rhinos aren’t the only animals hunted for products that qualify as luxury items. Elephants are killed for their ivory; gorillas for their hands, which they use to make grotesque ashtrays; snow leopards for their fur; Birds of paradise for their feathers.
Poaching for Traditional Chinese Medicine
Try this: Ask the person next to you what they think rhino horn could be used for in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). He will most likely tell you that it is used as an aphrodisiac. It is not.
In Asia, ground rhino horn is used to treat almost everything except impotence and sexual insufficiency. As an antidote to poisons (in Europe it was said that if poison was poured on it, it would collapse). To heal evil possessions and ward off all evil spirits and miasma. For Gelsemium [Jasmine] and the poisoning of snakes. To eliminate hallucinations and haunting nightmares. Continued use illuminates the body and makes it very robust. For typhus, headaches, and feverish colds. For carbuncles and boils filled with pus. In intermittent fever with delirium. To dispel fear and anxiety, calm the liver, and clear vision. It is a sedative of the intestines, tonic, and antipyretic. Dissolves phlegm It is an antidote to the evil miasma of mountain streams. For infantile spasms and dysentery.Ingestion of ashes and water to treat violent vomiting, food poisoning, and toxic drug overdoses. For arthritis, melancholy, and loss of voice. Ground into a paste with water, it is administered for hematemesis [bleeding from the throat], epistaxis [epistaxis], rectal bleeding, severe smallpox, etc. Like a love potion.
And in S.O.S. Rhino, C.A.W.Guggisberg said: “The superstition that has done the most damage to the rhinoceros family is undoubtedly the Chinese belief in the powerful aphrodisiac properties of horns. Over the centuries, countless generations of elderly gentlemen have drunk rhinoceros horn powder. in a suitable drink, hoping to feel like you’re 20 the next time you step into the harem! ”
Even without aphrodisiacal properties, however, rhino horn is one of the mainstays of TCM, and its harvesting has been responsible for the death of tens of thousands of rhinos worldwide. Don’t get me wrong: people who use rhino horns to treat medical conditions really believe it works. This is what increases the demand on which poachers thrive.
As Ann and Steve Toon commented in 2002, “For practitioners of traditional Asian medicine, the rhinoceros horn is not perceived as a frivolous love potion, but as an irreplaceable pharmaceutical necessity. ”
And Eric Dinerstein (2003), concurs: “In fact, traditional Chinese medicine never has used rhinoceros horn as an aphrodisiac: this is a myth of the Western media and in some parts of Asia is viewed as a kind of anti-Chinese hysteria. “Rhino horn has been an integral part of TCM for thousands of years. It doesn’t matter where the rhinos come from; rhino horns from any continent can be used for medical purposes.
During this time, most of the rhinos killed were black rhinos, although the In the 1930s, according to Nigel LeaderWilliams (1992), reported exports from East Africa (then under British rule) averaged about 1,600 kilograms (3,520 lb) per years, resulting in the deaths of about 555 black rhinos per year. During World War II, numbers increased from to 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds), resulting in approximately, 860 rhinos being killed each year. In the 1950s and 1960s, auction houses reported about 1,800 kilograms per year; which would have meant the death of about 600 rhinos per year. By the 1970s the figures had returned to 3,400 kilograms (7,480 pounds) and 1,180 rhinos were killed each year during that decade.
Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah Malaysia, Brunei, Macao, and Thailand, while the top Asian importers of African rhino horn in were not surprisingly the top three on this list: mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. During the 1960s and 1970s, Hong Kong was the world’s largest importer of rhino horn. Although the government officially banned all imports in 1979, rhino horn was smuggled from Macau, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Taiwan, and South Africa.
Scientists at the Pharmacological Institute in China suggested using buffalo horn (made from keratin, just like rhino horn), and China’s National Health Drug Products Manager told that all of their new drugs now use buffalo horn instead of rhino horn. In “Fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine” we find the admission that all these rhinos did not have to be killed at all. Use water buffalo horn instead.
For people whose annual income is often well below the poverty line, the prospect of changing their lives by killing a large, lanky, seemingly “useless” animal must be overwhelming. The wholesale value of Asian rhinoceros horn has increased from US$35 per kg [2.2, lb] in 1972 to $9,000 per kg by the mid-1980s. The retail price, after the horn was shaved or powdered for sale, was sometimes between $20,000 and $30,000 per kg in some East Asian markets. By comparison, gold was worth about $13,000 a kilo in May 1990.
In these markets, trading rhino horn for medicinal purposes is very big business, but since much of it is traded through various black markets, its true extension may never be known. The Taiwanese account for a significant portion of the market for horns imported into Asia from southern Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, where black rhinos can still be found. Like the Taiwanese, many Koreans are dedicated practitioners of traditional medicinal arts and willing to import significant quantities of unnatural substances into their country. Traditional Korean medicine is based on the Chinese version, which is said to have come to Korea in the 6th century.
It is not known if rhino horn has a medicinal purpose, but it is a testament to the power of the tradition believed in by millions. Of course, if people want to believe in prayer or acupuncture or voodoo as a cure for their ailments, there’s no reason not to, but when animals are killed to provide panaceas that have proved useless, so it is a very good reason to reduce the use of rhino horn.
Rhinos as we know them have been around for millions of years. It is heartbreaking to realize that the rhinos of the World are being wiped off the face of the earth in the name of drugs that probably aren’t even effective.