Scientists Create Fake Rhino Horn to Fight Poaching
The team from the University of Oxford and Fudan University in China found a way to make a fake rhino horn cheaply from horse hair, BBC News reported.
"It appears from our investigation that it is rather easy as well as cheap to make a bio-inspired horn-like material that mimics the rhino's extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair," University of Oxford Department of Zoology professor Fritz Vollrath told BBC News.
LIVE: Our very own Fritz Vollrath is on Radio Four now, talking about creating fake rhino horn with horse hair to… https://t.co/jzdAB7ZpFT— OxZooDept (@OxZooDept)1573463015.0
The researchers published their achievement in Scientific Reports Friday, in the hopes that it could be used to protect the endangered animals.
"Demand for rhino horn is driving poaching with devastating effect for the few individuals left of the few species surviving from this once numerous, widespread and cosmopolitan clade of pachyderms," the researchers noted in the abstract.
Rhino horn, which is desirable in traditional Chinese medicine and also for decorative carvings, has driven the poaching of the species: 769 rhinos were poached in 2018 in South Africa alone, according to The Guardian. On the continent as a whole, 892 were killed that year, CNN reported. Currently there are around 20,000 white rhinos, 5,000 black rhinos, 3,500 greater one-horn rhinos, fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos and fewer than 68 Javan rhinos left alive, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
That's where the fake horn comes in.
"The economists seem to think that if you flood the market with substitutes, the price will drop," Vollrath told The Guardian. "If the price drops and the penalty of having rhino horn is still very high, then the value proposition changes for the trader."
The scientists said they would leave it up to others to develop their idea further, but some conservationists don't think the fake horn is the right road to rhino protection.
"Pushing a synthetic alternative could help to reinforce the perception that rhino horn is a desirable commodity, thus perpetuating existing demand, while presenting consumers with a synthetic alternative may actually stimulate demand for the real thing, thus exacerbating the existing situation," Dr. Richard Thomas from the wildlife organization Traffic told The Guardian.
Further, a WWF spokesperson told CNN that fake rhino horn was already sold on the market:
"One of the known characteristics of the Asian consumer markets since the poaching crisis erupted in 2007 has been the high quantity of fake horn in circulation," a WWF spokesperson told CNN in a statement.
"In spite of this rhino poaching levels have risen relentlessly, because many buyers still prefer the real product and will take some trouble to acquire it from sources they deem trustworthy."
Thomas said that, instead, those looking to protect rhinos should focus on reducing demand by both encouraging a shift in consumer behavior and enforcing measures against the trade.
Save the Rhino International Deputy Director John Taylor agreed.
"There is no substitute for anti-poaching measures at one end and reducing demand at the other," he told BBC News.
- Elephant Poaching Is on the Rise in Botswana, Study Confirms ... ›
- Alaska Poachers Sentenced for Killing Mother Bear and 'Shrieking ... ›
- World-Renowned Ivory and Rhino Horn Investigator Killed in Kenya ... ›
New Zealand could be the first country in the world to require its major financial institutions to report on the risks posed by the climate crisis.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Eco-friendly outdoor brand Patagonia has a colorful and timely message stitched into the tags of its latest line of shorts. "VOTE THE A**HOLES," it reads.
- 'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates for First Time in ... ›
- Tesla, Patagonia Join Growing Resistance Against Trump - EcoWatch ›
This year, the UK National James Dyson Award went to a team of student designers who want to reduce the environmental impact of car tires.
- Humans Eat More Than 100 Plastic Fibers With Each Meal - EcoWatch ›
- Microplastics Are Raining Down on Cities - EcoWatch ›
- Microplastics Are Wafting in on the Sea Breeze - EcoWatch ›
By Brett Wilkins
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.
<div id="13077" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11b9fe5ff48ebc437353df6df9c2c892"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1305915938148147205" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Just a week before the Trump administration issued an executive order aimed at keeping meat packing plants open, th… https://t.co/DkbXgPm4YR</div> — ProPublica (@ProPublica)<a href="https://twitter.com/propublica/statuses/1305915938148147205">1600189597.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="36e4c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e7c8048c2755109629a3b3072fcb3261"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1304424041814593539" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Meatpacking union @UFCW, which reps workers at this plant (four of whom died), slams OSHA for the small $13k fine a… https://t.co/tnhfKd89ab</div> — Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieson/statuses/1304424041814593539">1599833901.0</a></blockquote></div><p>The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents Smithfield Foods workers, <a href="https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2020/09/10/osha-fines-smithfield-foods-sioux-falls-south-dakota/5768786002/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=f7bf3f03-ce98-4df4-9c45-f44d9a6a5890" target="_blank">slammed</a> the fine as "insulting and a slap on the wrist."</p><p>"How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump administration, clearly not much," said UFCW president Marc Perrone.</p><p>"This so-called 'fine' is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic," Perrone added. </p><p>Other critics, including vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights and environmental advocates argued that the accelerated spread of Covid-19 from meatpacking facilities is but the latest compelling argument in favor of reducing—or eliminating—meat consumption.</p><p>"We know that Covid-19 originated in a meat market and that previous influenza viruses originated in pigs and chickens," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/meat-shortage-slaugherhouses-go-vegan/" target="_blank">said</a> in April amid news that a Foster Farms slaughterhouse in Livingston, California was <a href="https://www.peta.org/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-slaughterhouse-meat-concerns/?utm_source=PETA::Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=0420::veg::PETA::Twitter::Workers%20Blame%20Major%20Pig%20Slaughterhouse%20600%20Infected%20COVID-19::::tweet" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ordered closed</a> by local health authorities due to a Covid-19 outbreak that killed eight employees.</p>
<div id="28490" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="48ddd3480a2beb42597d9516ef652f0f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1252416495990140929" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! @SmithfieldFoods allegedly took NO PRECAUTIONS to protect the safety of its workers, leaving o… https://t.co/viAJ026pLy</div> — PETA (@PETA)<a href="https://twitter.com/peta/statuses/1252416495990140929">1587434336.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's not a matter of <em>whether</em> using and killing animals for food will give rise to another disease outbreak—it's a matter of <em>when</em>," said PETA. "There has never been a better, more obvious time for businesses to put an end to their dirty trade of slaughtering animals for their flesh." </p>
By Andrea Willige
More than half of the world's population lives in cities, and most future population growth is predicted to happen in urban areas. But the concentration of large numbers of people and the ecosystems built around their lives has also been a driver of climate change.