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Rhino head

Rhinos will be better off without their horns…at least that’s what the Namibian government believes.  They recently announced their intention to de-horn all the rhinos in Namibia to try to prevent poaching.

I say TRY to prevent because de-horned rhinos are still poached.  Yes, really.  Sometimes they’re killed because it’s impossible to remove 100% of the horn with de-horning, so about 5-10% remains (maybe 1″-2″) and there are people who will still kill a rhino just to get their hands on that tiny stump.  Sometimes they’re probably killed because a poacher takes a shot at them not realizing they’ve been de-horned, like if they’re spotted in heavy brush and the head isn’t clearly visible.  And sometimes they’re probably killed just out of spite.

Rhino horns WILL regrow after they’re sawed off, so the de-horning will not be a one-time occurrence, but will need to be repeated every year or two.

De-horning isn’t cheap (several hundred dollars per animal), and it isn’t without risk to the rhino.  Though the horn isn’t living tissue (think GIANT fingernail!) and cutting it off doesn’t hurt the rhino, the process of tranquilizing the huge beasts is dangerous to them.  Some will die from a bad reaction to the tranquilizer, and that risk increases each subsequent time the rhino is tranquilized.  And pregnant rhinos can’t be tranquilized at all.

There are no easy answers to the poaching that kills hundreds of rhinos every year.

For more information about de-horning programs, see the Save the Rhino site:  http://www.savetherhino.org/

This link will take you to the excellent article on the Save the Rhino site which will explain the de-horning dilemma in greater detail than I did here:  http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/issues_for_debate/de-horning

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