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An ingenious way of saving rhinos

Environment > An ingenious way of saving rhinos

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Dye hard — an ingenious way of saving rhinos

10 May 2021, 10:00 AM

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The problem of wildlife poaching is rife, especially in southern African countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa. Security patrols and policing in these countries try their best, but the poachers are always finding new and calculated ways to evade them.

A complex and difficult problem like this needs a radical and inventive solution. This is where the Rhino Rescue Project comes in.  

From 2007 to 2014, rhino poaching in Africa increased by a staggering 9,000%. Where once the savannahs were busy with rhino, the numbers are falling at an alarming rate.

In the fight to stop this tragic practice, the Rhino Rescue Project has come up with an ingenious way of protecting these animals: by devaluing their prized horns with dye. This doesn't harm the rhinos in any way, aside from a bit of colour clash with the rest of their outfit.

The horns are infused with something called an ectoparisiticide, which is commonly used to rid the surface skin of animals of parasitic infestations. It's not lethal to humans, but can make them very sick. The tubular structure of the horns on a micro level means the dye needs can be infused using a high pressure pump. This process takes about 10-15 minutes.

Because the horns are consumed in the medicines, dyeing them with this red pesticide makes them poisoned and tainted. Poaching is a dangerous game, and poachers won’t risk their lives to secure a contaminated, potentially poisonous horn. To the poachers, these horns are worthless.

The Rhino Rescue Project is a fantastic example of how compassion can fuel innovation, and that thinking laterally can help to solve problems where solutions seem thin on the ground.

Tell you what’s not thin on the ground though – rhinos.

394 rhinos Poached last year

Warning: may blow your mind!

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