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Rhino horn infused with poison and dye to deter poachers

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(14 May 2019) LEAD IN:South Africa is home to most of the world's rhinos.But poaching of rhinos for their horns is threatening their survival. Now one wildlife reserve is injecting their rhinos' horns with a mixture of toxin and dye to devalue it in the eyes of poachers. STORYLINE: This southern white rhino is one of eight living freely at this private reserve in Limpopo. But rhinos are under threat from poachers. Rhinos have been heavily poached to meet demand for their horns in parts of Asia. Some consumers believe rhino horn can cure illnesses if ingested in powder form, although there is no evidence that the horn, made of the same substance as human fingernails, has any medicinal value. Rhino horn is also seen by some buyers as a symbol of status and wealth.So the reserve owners are working with the Rhino Rescue Project on a radical approach to protecting the rhinos, infusing their horns with a mixture of toxin and dye to make it less desirable for poachers.With a massive body and large head, it is difficult to assess the animals before being tranquillized explains wildlife veterinarian, Dr Shaun Beverly."There is no possibility to do a physical exam on the animal before you immobilize them, so you're shooting a little bit in the dark in that sense. There is always a risk, especially with the drugs that we use, respiratory depression, cardiac depression, are an important side effect of those drugs, so it's important to manage and monitor those potential side effects."Once anaesthetized, the rhino is blindfolded to carry out the infusion. A hole is drilled above the base of the horn.It sounds much worse than it looks but there is no damage caused to the animal. This anti-poaching initiative was developed by the Rhino Rescue Project, which first started testing the method on their own animals in 2010. Since 2011, the project has been infusing other owner's animals and to date have completed approximately 700 infusions in a bid to conserve the rhino species.Dr Lorinda Hern, who oversees the Rhino Rescue Project explains: "The process was based on the only existing research article that we had at the time, which was done by the University of Ohio, where it was found that rhino horn have a tubular structure, so basically it is like stiff fibres inside an amorphous mass, a natural composite material. What we tried to assess is whether it was possible for us, to under high pressure infuse liquid compounds into these tubules in a rhino horn. And thus contaminate it to the point where it is no longer attractive as a medicinal product to end users or to be used for any kind of aesthetic appeal, libation cups or ceremonial dagger handles. and that's why what we use is a combination of toxins and a colourant, a dye so that the dye would prevent people from using it for aesthetic purposes, but then the toxins would dissuade them from using it as a medicinal product."So far, there have only been 2 rhinos poached with a toxin infused horn.  The poaching crisis began in 2008, with 262 rhinos being lost to poaching, according to charity 'Save the Rhino'. Since 2010, more than 8000 rhinos have been poached.Anthony Baber, who owns the reserve explains that this project was gamble that has so far paid off. The rhino horn is similar to that of the human fingernail - primarily made up of keratin.The horn is attached with a metal looking drip, which the solution passes through. There are roughly 20,000 southern white rhinos in Africa.Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Archive Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/APArchives Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/10201102858... Tumblr: https://aparchives.tumblr.com/​​ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/APNews/ You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/you...

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AP Archive 4208966 154f220e175db65f52e3de455c9201f3 HZ SAF Rhino Horn Infusion Johannesburg South Africa Southern Africa Environment and nature General news Health Science Animals
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