|More than 1,200 rhinos were lost due to poaching in South Africa last year, home to 85 per cent of Africa's estimated 25,000 rhinos. — Photo laodong.com.vn
HCM CITY (VNS) — "It is not difficult to find sellers of rhinoceros horns," declared a woman who was attending an online speech in HCM City by Dr Lorinda Hern, founder of the Rhino Rescue Project, on Wednesday.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she knew because her relatives in Binh Duong Province bought the horns once believing them to be a panacea for many diseases.
The belief is common in Viet Nam. That was why demand in the country remains high though admittedly falling by 38 per cent last year after a campaign was launched in 2013.
More than 1,200 rhinos were lost due to poaching in South Africa last year, home to 85 per cent of Africa's estimated 25,000 rhinos, according to Hern, who along with the project's co-founder Dr Charles van Niekerk infuses a toxic compound into rhino horns to prevent their harvest.
"Rhino horn is of no use to anyone except the rhino," she said.
In 1983 the World Wildlife Fund and International Union for Conservation of Nature published the results of a pharmacological study done by researchers at Hoffmann-LaRoche in The Environmentalist.
The study found no evidence that rhino horns had any medical effect as an antipyretic or in reducing fever, two things they are commonly used for in parts of Asia.
Other studies by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1990 and the Zoological Society of London in 2008 produced the same results.
Hern said: "It is simply not worth risking your life for consuming rhino horns because they are not only worthless but now also potentially extremely dangerous to your health."
"The consumers do not know better because the criminal syndicates that want to get rich from the sale of these illegal products are only feeding them what they want to know."
"Poachers can't be trusted, they just want to make money and do not care if someone is harmed from consuming toxic rhino horn."
Since 2010 Hern has been infusing rhino horns with an animal-friendly toxin to devalue them as a commodity.
Niekerk said, "The toxin is made up of ectoparasiticides, which are harmful to human health, and indelible dye that contaminates the horn and renders it useless for ornamental or medicinal use."
Though not lethal in small quantities, ectoparasiticides remain toxic and symptoms of ingestion may include vomiting and convulsions.— VNS