The dramatic decrease in the amount of rhinos across the world is a direct effect of human activity and, despite so much effort, it’s still increasing daily. Since 2008, South Africa has lost over 5,000 rhinos - a number which has significantly contribute to the extinction of both black and white rhinos across Africa in particular. Now, since poaching has escalated dramatically, many researchers are finding new solutions to preserve and protect rhinos. One of these methods is the synthetic horn, but the real question is whether or not this is too late, or if it will work.
Many campaign organisations have been monitoring the progress of four US-based companies. These companies all have the intention to produce synthetic rhino horns. They also focus on other products based on the preservation of elephant ivory, lion bones and pangolin scales. The reason this is taking place is because many countries, mainly in Eastern Asia, are using them in traditional medicines or even just decoration. But is this really fair for these endangered animals and is their life is worth more than an ornament?
The proposed development of synthetic rhino horns is all to do with acting on the amount of poaching that takes place daily. Rhinos play a crucial role in their ecosystem and have been around for millions of years. They’re important as they consume large amounts of vegetation, shaping the African landscape and making it an idyllic attraction for ecotourism. This also benefits other animals and keeps a healthy balance within the biodiversity of the land.
The synthetic horn will contain a pure filament keratin protein, which is the precise keratin that rhino horn is comprised of. The only difference between these is that the amino acids that make up a real life horn have different properties compared to the models that are currently being made. The reason this product is so important is so that rhinos will not become extinct; local people will also benefit as they depend on the natural resources within a rhinos habitat for food, fuel and income. However it is important we understand that there could be some potential risks when producing synthetic horns due to the price of manufacture and whether it will play a successful role in devaluing the market.
As one of Africa’s ‘Big Five’ animals, rhinos are a popular sight for tourists. This is an important source of income for local people and is influential to the amount of income communities receive. By helping protect rhinos, we’re helping to conserve their habitat for the benefit of people and local wildlife. With this support, local communities can make sure natural resources are available for generations to come.
By Marsha Clark - Voices for the Future
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