Last night I was in a real fury of rage and frustration. The reason was a small classified advertisement I stumbled across when browsing through the current issue of City Weekend magazine – a fortnightly events magazine not unlike Time Out. Placed in the ‘For Sale’ section of the classifieds, and following offers of second-hand bar/restaurant equipment, the ad read exactly as follows:
rhinoceros horn for sale available in 11kilos rhino horn for sale at moderate prices to interested business personel or individuals. they are still in very good condition and the have eisted for about 9years today. for more details contact me at XXXXXXat gmail dot com. XXXXXX@gmail.com we also do special delivery to any destination worldwide.
WTF??? ……… WTF!!!!
China is a CITES signatory, its 1993 ban on rhino trade warmly welcomed by CITES, and selling rhino horn in China is illegal – so how-come this advertisment? I immediately sent an email to the editor of City Weekend asking what the hell was going on, and within an hour had a rather shocked response saying he had no idea how the ad got into the magazine, he too was appalled, was looking into it and would let me know.
The Rhino is in grave danger of becoming extinct – once there were five types of Rhino: the Sumatran, the Indian , the Javan, the White Rhino and the Black Rhino (the last two being African rhinos). Alas, poachers killed the last Javan Rhino in 2010 so that type is now extinct. The Indian and Sumatran rhinos have been hunted to the verge of extinction with only tiny numbers of each still surviving.
The reason is there is a great deal of money to be made from selling rhino horn in the far East. Like ivory, rhino horn has been used for hundreds of years for carving bowls, figurines and other artifacts, but nowadays most of it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The practice of TCM is not confined to China but widely practiced throughout the East – in Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and particularly in Viet Nam.
Contrary to popular western belief, the rhino horn was never used in medications for male virility, but for other less dramatic conditions. What has caused the huge upsurge in demand for the horn is the story that went round the internet stating that rhino horn could cure cancers, and this ridiculous statement was repeated by a Vietnamese cabinet minister which made it go viral…needless to say, demand for rhino horn quickly reached epic proportions.
Of course, this is all a load of bollocks. Rhino horn cures NOTHING, it never has and it never will. Rhino horn is made of strands of keratin the same substance that forms our hair and our finger nails. It has no medicinal value and no nutritional value what-so-ever. Frankly you could chew on your own toe-nail and it would do you as much good. But the problem is that most people in the far East don’t know that. Somehow we have to get the message across, spread the word. I have been giving some thought as to how to do this in China, and though I have a few ideas I am going to have to work on them.
Meanwhile one very famous Chinese guy has been trying to get the word out. Yao Ming was one of China’s greatest basketball players. He has joined the campaign to stop the trade in ivory and rhino horn, and is telling it all over the Chinese blogosphere. More power to his elbow.
I am very fortunate, I grew up in central Africa, and had the privilege of seeing these amazing ancient beasts roaming through the bush – it would be appalling if my grandchildren, and the generations who follow them, could not see these wonderful animals just because of man’s ignorance and greed.
Wherever you live in the world, please consider celebrating the New Year by making a donation to Save the Rhino and do your bit to help stop this vile slaughter.