It's time for NGOs, zoos, educational institutions, traditional media, social media, and the public to stand together and bust the rhino horn myth: Rhino horn has no medicinal properties, no curative benefits, and no magical powers!
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Until we acknowledge the root of the problem, we cannot take real steps to solve it. - Rhishja Cota-Larson, founder of Saving Rhinos. Read more from the Mongabay interview Belief and butchery: how lies and organized crime are pushing rhinos to extinction
A COALITION APPROACH TO DEBUNKING THE RHINO HORN MEDICINE MYTH
'Bust the Myth - Save the Species' campaign display at the 2011 International Rhino Keeper Association workshop.
Zoos, NGOs, educational institutions, traditional media, social media, the public.
CORE MESSAGE: Rhino horn has no medicinal properties, no curative benefits, and no magical powers.
At the ROOT of the rhino CRISIS is the continued belief that rhino horn has useful medicinal properties.
BUILD a content library and SATURATE every communication channel with the CORE MESSAGE.
Website, social media, print, videos/webcasting, merchandise, rhino enclosures, docents, volunteers.
Check out our article Busting the Rhino Horn Myth with Science
Scientific evidence ignored; rhino population plummets
In 1983, when there were still at least 15,000 black rhinos on the African continent, WWF and the IUCN commissioned a pharmacological study of rhino horn, hoping that science would trump cultural myths. Conducted by Hoffmann-LaRoche, the research was published in The Environmentalist.
The study "found no evidence that rhino horn has any medicinal effect as an antipyretic and would be ineffective in reducing fever, a common usage in much of Asia." Testing also confirmed that rhino horn "has no analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmolytic nor diuretic properties" and "no bactericidal effect could be found against suppuration and intestinal bacteria."
Tragically, by 1993, ten years after the study was published, Africa’s black rhino population had plummeted to just 2,300.
Rhino horn in the laboratory – again
Later analysis of rhino horn at the Zoological Society of London confirmed what had been found earlier by the pharmacological testing done by Hoffmann-LaRoche.
There was still no evidence to support the notion that rhino horn was of any medicinal value.
Researchers noted that rhino horn contains no medical properties, and that consuming rhino horn has the same effect as chewing one’s own fingernails.
Of rats and rhino horn
The usefulness of rhino horn as a medicine was also debunked by scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who published their findings in the research study Ethnopharmacology of Rhinoceros Horn. I: Antipyretic Effects of Rhinoceros Horn and Other Animal Horns.
Although fever-induced rats showed temporary lowering of temperature after being injected with an extremely high concentration of rhino horn extract, there was no antipyretic effect at the dosage levels comparable to what would be prescribed to a human patient.
Apparently, based on the results of this study, rhinoceros horn can reduce fever, but only at rather high dosage levels when prescribed as a single drug.
It is worth noting that while the Chinese University at Hong Kong study is often cited as “evidence” that rhino horn does indeed reduce fever, the above details (rats and dosage levels) are frequently omitted.
Learn more at Busting the Rhino Horn Myth with Science