From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published May 12, 2011 08:17 AM

Belief and butchery: how lies and organized crime are pushing rhinos to extinction

Few animals face as violent, as well organized, and as determined an enemy as the world's rhinos. Across the globe rhinos are being slaughtered in record numbers; on average more than one rhino is killed by poachers everyday. After being shot or drugged, criminals take what they came for: they saw off the animal's horn. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which claims that it has curative properties, rhino horn is worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market. However, science proves all this cash and death is based on a lie.


"There is no medicinal benefit to consuming rhino horn. It has been extensively analyzed in separate studies, by different institutions, and rhino horn was found to contain no medical properties whatsoever," says Rhishja Larson, creator and head of the organization Saving Rhinos and author of the blog, Rhino Horn is NOT Medicine.

With a business and marketing background, Larson has taken a unique approach to advocating for the world's rhinos. She believes that raising awareness may be key to winning the war against poaching.

"Until we acknowledge the root of the problem, we cannot take real steps to solve it. There is still a large segment of the public—including the media—that does not realize we are looking at an organized crime issue. [...] Here's an illegal market laundering an obscene amount of money—and it's all based on a myth, a superstition about an animal part," Larson explains, adding that, "I believe if the public knew the whole story, there would be a greater effort to disrupt—and ultimately close down—the rhino horn trade."

According to Larson, rhino poaching, and the illegal wildlife trade in general, is not taken seriously enough.

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