Next time you sprinkle rhino horn on your cornflakes to get an erection or banish a demon think about this: a South African farmer is injecting horns with poison that could kill you.
Rhino horns have no medicinal value yet people across Asia, mainly in China, South Korea and Vietnam, believe the hair-like material cures everything from impotence to arthritis and demonic possession. And this hocus-pocus is helping to drive the mammals to extinction.
The Javan rhino is the most endangered mammal in the world, with less than 50 individuals surviving in a tiny corner of protected forest on Indonesia’s most populated island.
Farmer Ed Hern, owner of the Rhino and Lion Park west of Johannesburg, is taking matters into his own hands. He reckons that if he poisons the horns people might stop and think before they buy the illegal product.
We need to try poisoning the horns with something like cyanide so when someone uses it for medicine they will die. I have started testing with a vet. The horn is made of hair, there is no blood flow through it and so far we have not seen any effects. But if someone used the horn as medicine they would get very sick or die… I have even consulted lawyers to see what would happen if we did this. They tell me I would get into a lot of trouble.
According to South Africa’s The Times, Hern doesn’t seem too bothered by the “trouble” he could face. He also threatened to shoot poachers:
What they (poachers) are doing is illegal. We need to stop this once and for all. If they try to poach my rhinos I will shoot them… I will shoot a helicopter out of the sky if it is flying low over my farm at night.
He said he was experimenting with the help of an unidentified vet to make sure the poison would not affect the animals.
Fans of rhino horn, like millions of Chinese and Koreans and Australian model Elle Macpherson, might want to think about the “medicinal” qualities of the product before they support the illegal trade (even if they were only joking).
(Photo courtesy of Mikee Showbiz via flickr)