Despite the facts that they are just made up of Keratin, Rhino horn has, for centuries, been believed to hold medicinal properties.
This is the main reason that these valuable horns sell for such high prices on the black market, particularly in Asia, since the medicinal properties are predominantly within the sphere of Chinese medicine.
Despite the exorbitantly high prices of these traditional medicines, the Asian market continues to invest in them in the hopes of curing a wide variety of ailments.
Numerous studies and experiments have been conducted over the years to test whether the rhino horn really possesses any form of curative properties or medicinal value. Over and over again, it has been found that it does not. However, the Asian markets put such trust in these remedies that all scientific studies have largely been ignored to date.
The greatest threat facing African rhinos is poaching for the illegal trade in their horns, which has soared in recent years.
The number of rhinos poached in South Africa alone has increased by 9,000% since 2007 - from 13 to a record 1,215 in 2014.
But the current surge has been primarily driven by demand for horn in Vietnam. As well as its use in medicine, rhino horn is bought and consumed purely as a symbol of wealth.
Poaching gangs use increasingly sophisticated methods, including helicopters and night vision equipment to track rhinos, and veterinary drugs to knock them out.
This means countries and conservationists need to match this level of technology to be able to tackle the problem, alongside working to reduce demand.
If Poaching is allowed to continue at the current rate, the World will have NO Rhinos living in the wild as soon as the year 2025. The last decade has seen poaching brutality against rhinos rise so sharply, that people are beginning to fear they will be culled to extinction in the near future.
The Department of Environmental Affairs yesterday published their report on South Africa’s state of rhino poaching for 2017. With 13 more rhinos being killed at this point last year compared to now, the Department declared it a step in the right direction.
However, it’s a very hollow victory. Though Kruger has beefed up its security and drove away many poachers, it has only encouraged them to hit areas like KwaZulu-Natal, who are now suffering from their worst spate of poaching in recent memory.