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  • Writer's pictureLEO Africa

Why do rhinos get dehorned?

RHINO DEHORNING - (sensitive content in the video below)

Why do some game reserves and national parks in South Africa cut the horns of the rhinos? The answer is: to try and save them from poachers who kill them for their horn, that is used in some countries such as China and Vietnam in the traditional medicine. However, rhino horn is made of keratin, like our hair and nails, and it is scientifically proven that it doesn’t have any medical property. The result is that thousands and thousands of rhinos have been slaughtered in the past years. The horn of the rhino is attached to the skin of the animal, not to the bone. That is why it is possible to cut it up to a point, and the animal doesn’t feel any pain (a bit like cutting our nails). This is a last resort attempt to save the lives of the remaining rhinos, and to discourage poachers to kill them for their horns.

The sale of rhino horn is illegal, so currently reserves and national parks who harvest the horn to protect the rhinos, keep the horns in safe places outside the premises. Having rhinos on a property means that a reserve must budget also for very efficient anti-poaching teams to protect the animals. Thanks to a continuous monitoring, the LEO Africa Team also assists in this task, so anti-poaching can focus on patrolling the reserve and actively deterring poachers. ~~~~~ The procedure of dehorning a rhino involves a helicopter, a vet and a ground team. Once the rhino is darted from the helicopter, the ground team runs to the rhino to cover the eyes, check the breathing, cover the ears and together with the vet, the horn is cut. The safety of the animal is always the priority, so the whole operation takes a few minutes. The rhino is woken up and is able to run off after a few minutes. Although it may look unnatural, If all the rhinos within a reserve are dehorned, this also help in reducing the mortalities due to fights among the species; the rhinos are big enough to defend themselves from any predator without the horn.

A continuous education of people is key to stop the demand for rhino horns.


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