How to stop rhino horn trade: Convince people it’s a bogus remedy
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How to stop rhino horn trade: Convince people it’s a bogus remedy

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long and hallowed history with origins thousands of years old. But that doesn’t mean it works.

Some TCM is healthy or at least harmless. I’ll incorporate a bit of Qi Gong into my exercises for my back, for example. Great for the circulation, varicose veins, shoulders and neck… god, I’m not even 40 yet and I sound like a pensioner.

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South African Rhino, pic: Jonathan Talbot, World Resources Institute

Tiger penis, bear bile and rhino horn, on the other hand, are completely bogus, cruel and irresponsible. Those who think otherwise need to be convinced… somehow. If demand goes down, poachers will not risk life and limb to helicopter into rhinoceros conservation parks in Africa, shoot rhinos, saw their horns off their faces and leave them to die.

Javan rhinos used to be a source for bogus TCM cures, but now there are only 50 left on the Indonesian island of Java. There used to be some in Vietnam, but poachers killed the last one in 2011. Now South Africa seems to be the preferred place to poach. 333 were poached there in 2010, up from only 13 in 2007. The poachers themselves, who are usually very poor, often get killed in gun battles with park rangers. All for a medicine that doesn’t work.

According to a new WWF report, Vietnam is the top destination for illegal South African rhino horns, helping to bring the 2011 total for rhinoceroses poached in South Africa to 448. Not one powdered horn cured cancer or anything else, I’d be willing to bet. But a lot of money was made.

Other countries shamed in the WWF report include Laos and Mozambique as source countries for elephant poaching and China and Thailand as destinations for the ivory. I don’t think anyone tries to cure cancer, impotence or the common cold with ivory, but rich folks like to use it as bling. To hell with them too.

From Russia Today:

Last year had the largest number of elephants poached in Africa on record. There is a growing involvement of organized crime in the trade.

–Wendy Elliott, WWF Global Species program manager

Besides the shaming, the WWF did credit several nations (China, India,, Malaysia, Laos Nigeria, Russia, South Africa and Zimbabwe according to the BBC) with advances in wildlife trade controls and penalties for poaching and smuggling.

From AFP:

WWF said China banned using rhino horn for traditional medicines in 1993, and authorities had followed through with periodic crackdowns that were effective in stopping it being sold in pharmacies. China has also made genuine efforts overall to stop the illegal trade of endangered species’ parts, but elephants’ ivory remained a big problem because of the huge demand in the world’s most populous country, it said.

Good that it’s banned. Now tell everyone that it doesn’t work – at all. Maybe this is already taking place, but let’s help get the word out.

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elephant, Mozambique, pic: Muchaxo (Flickr CC)