Rhino horns poisoned against poaching

2011-12-23 19:00

Johannesburg - A Western Cape game reserve owner has injected his rhinos' horns with poison in a bid to prevent poaching.

"We hope that it will inform poachers, it [poaching at the reserve] is going to be a waste of time," said Inverdoorn reserve owner, Damian Vergnaud, on Friday.

He said he had approached scientists and his vet to assist him in finding a new way of protecting his rhinos.

"Dehorning, it's very painful for the animals. It's traumatising and it makes them look different.

"I really wanted to create a different defence system."

Vergnaud said that an operation whereby three substances were injected into the horns of two female rhinos and a calf took place at the reserve, outside Cape Town, on Thursday.

The first substance injected was a dye - the same product used to foil cash-in-transit robbers by marking the bank notes if the box they were kept in, was forced open.

Vergnaud said the dye would appear in the inside of the horn, making it useless for decorative purposes.

The handle of a dagger called a jambiya - and which is popular in Yemen - is often made of rhino horn.

The second substance that was injected was used to make the horn visible on an X-ray scanner - to ensure poachers could not get away with smuggling them through border control machinery.

No side-effects

The third substance, called barium and which is designed by Denel, had an off-putting taste and would make anyone who tried to ingest it, mildly ill.

"It tastes very bad if you put it into your mouth. You can't swallow it, it is just too disgusting. Even if someone is crazy enough to swallow it, it will just cause some diarrhoea and nausea.

"It's harmless no one can die from it."

The rhinos would experience no side effects from the substances in their horns.

Vergnaud said he was happy to share his solution with other people trying to protect rhinos. He said he had already been approached to help prevent poaching in Botswana.

He said that since rhino horns grew over time, the procedure would have to be repeated every three to four years.

Spate of poaching

South Africa has been assaulted by a spate of rhino poaching this year.

Just last week, four poachers were arrested in Hoedspruit in Limpopo after they were found with two horns, two rifles and an axe. A carcass was discovered in the area at the time of their arrest.

In Germiston last week, a Chinese national, Hsu Hsien Lung, was sentenced to six years imprisonment for the possession of two rhino horns without a permit.

Hawks spokesperson Colonol McIntosh Polela said at the time: "If the criminals who are decimating these animals are not stopped, the country could lose this part of its heritage forever".

Seventy-eight suspected poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park, alone, this year.

The number of rhinos killed in the country has gone over the 400-mark, compared to 333 killed in 2010, according to SA National Parks statistics.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, three of the five rhino species globally are critically endangered.

This year, the fund declared that rhinos in Vietnam have gone extinct.

Rhino horn is highly sought after in Asia for medicinal purposes.

According to the Save the Rhino website, at the turn of the 19th century, there were approximately one million rhinos.

Today, fewer than 24 500 survive in the wild, with the vast majority of these found in South Africa.

  • Shirley - 2011-12-23 19:09

    Well done!!!! Good to hear the positive strides been taken to protect these majestic beasts!Pity there wasnt a subsance that if ingested would make them so radio active they would glow in the dark!!!!

      Shirley - 2011-12-23 19:10

      The poachers-not the rhino!!

      craigtjames - 2011-12-23 19:14

      That was funny - should have left it to the readers interpretation. Can you imagine what would have come out from some of our posters:-)

      Rina - 2011-12-23 20:39

      Arsenic would solve the problem!

      Makatikamusona - 2011-12-23 22:32

      Nice try but the secret is now out and poachers would pass them through their own X-ray scanners first

      Bongani - 2011-12-24 00:45

      There can be no doubt that this must rank as one of the scariest blogs I have ever read. I have come across people here that I would rather never meet. Thoughts of Dr. Evil, Wouter Basson, came up in my head when reading some of these comments. If any human being tells me they love hunting, then I immediately distance myself from them due to my belief, that you surely lack something within, if you could coldly shoot animals. In the mean time, those that really care about our Rhino please visit Save the and contribute in a positive manner to the preservation of these majestic animals.

      Yurak - 2011-12-24 15:52

      Well then Ibhubesi, you should distance yourself from society all toghether then, everybody is/was a hunter at some point in their life. Just like you spray doom on the cocroaches in your house to prevent them from overbreeding/dezease, etc, so must we kull in order to keep balance in nature. What I can say however is that ALL the rhino farmers must do the same as soon as possible because I see a very sharp increase in price for rhino horn due to a shortage of untainted horn.

      Nick - 2011-12-24 15:58

      Well said Shirley! :) The only thing I would like to see is that the 'potency' of Barium used is upped - to the point, while still being totally harmless to the rhino itself - would be fatal to the human scum ingesting it..!

  • craigtjames - 2011-12-23 19:09

    Well done - taking pro-active measures. Hope this will deter the poachers, and if it does not, well let them pay the price.

      Marc - 2011-12-24 10:20

      Good point Craig. I'd far rather it was something more lethal (that obviously does not harm the animal). If its radioactive, why not try polonium. Bit risky to the vet and the rhinop. Nonetheless, having seen footage of the methods used by these poachers I'd seriously like to shove benzine hexachloride down their gagging throats personally, and manually. Believe me, I couldn't give a toss about what part of the "supply chain" they are at. They all go down.

      Nick - 2011-12-24 16:00

      Well said @Marc57! :)

  • sarah.bouttell - 2011-12-23 19:10

    Seems to be the only direction to head in. Like that he has taken a three pronged attack on the problem.

  • mario - 2011-12-23 19:10


  • Bongani - 2011-12-23 19:12

    A real pity the poison doesn't kill. Bit of nausea isn't good enough.

      michel.pieterse - 2011-12-24 04:07

      I agree 100%

      fragtion - 2011-12-24 05:06

      You want to kill the poachers, not the guys buying the finished product that's already been processed into an item that the buyer might not even know is rhino horn

      Johan - 2011-12-24 07:37

      Although I agree that rhino's should be protected, it would be murder if some poacher should die from poison in a rhinohorn! This would be the same random killing as setting a tripwire gun.

  • louis.b.ebersohn - 2011-12-23 19:19

    Unfortunately this kind of knee jerk reaction equates to nothing more than a typical treatment of symptoms. In order to solve the poaching problem we need to stop playing the emotional game and work with the facts. Conservation through utilisation is the only way. Commercial farming with rhino's, perlemoen and all other wildlife for that matter, can produce or supply in the global demand for these products and even elleviate global hunger and food shortages (specifically meat) legally.

      Bongani - 2011-12-23 19:53

      I have never read anything as horrific as this and I am speechless that people with thoughts like this actually exist. Beyond disgusting!

      craigtjames - 2011-12-23 19:58

      What???? The global demand for both these product you are talking about, is not out of any basic need(global hunger and food shortages), but greed!!!!!

      mario.dippenaar - 2011-12-23 20:05

      Even though your comment is logical, rational and from a Utilitarian viewpoint viable, I fear most people choose to react to these kinds of comments with emotions and in your case, downvotes. However, it seems that your controversial viewpoint does has valid merits and people who support it.

      Bongani - 2011-12-23 20:13

      @DerpyHooves. I'm afraid we don't CHOOSE to react in this manner. Statements like these can only prove that man is in fact the lowest form of life on this earth. How would you like me chaining you to pole and milking your semen every few hours so we can preserve this disgusting animal called a human!

      Stefan - 2011-12-23 20:13

      Legalising trade in rhino horn will cause a huge growth in the market. The market will be flooded for a short while (some game farmers and reserves have huge stockpiles of horns, which is not illegal) but it is very difficult to predict what the supply-and-demand ratio will be after the initial period of trade. It might alleviate (not eliminate) the problem in the long run, but it might also very quickly put the final nail in this endangered specie's coffin. In my opinion, it's just not worth the risk.

      craigtjames - 2011-12-23 20:34

      We need to address the cause and not the symptoms. Is there any reasonable and logical explanation for the use/poaching of Rhino horn? Does it serve anything but man's greed?

      sarah.bouttell - 2011-12-23 20:34

      They don't reproduce fast enough to be a viable candidate for "commercial farming"' nor for that matter, do perlemoen. your argument is flawed.

      craigtjames - 2011-12-23 20:50

      Clinton, Impala is and will not be for the foreseeing future be endangered. We are talking about an endangered species here. But your post is still in bad taste!

      mario.dippenaar - 2011-12-23 20:54

      @Ibhubesi My statements weren’t offensive, it was neutral, yet you attacked me personally and besides, you committed a logical fallacy by constructing a strawman of my viewpoint. However, I’ll try to offer a rebuttal to your viewpoint: Animals are not humans, they were placed on Earth for man’s benefit, utilising rhinos for economic benefit is the same as utilising chickens for a meal or sheep for their wool. I feel that we should try to minimise suffering of all sentient beings and try to maximise happiness for all. If that means farming rhinos for their horns so be it. It will encourage farmers to breed more rhinos, so they can maximise their profits. In the long run there will more rhinos and money, more money to combat poaching. Less poaching means less rhinos suffering.

      edward.d.beesley - 2011-12-24 13:53

      Derpy, man THINKS that the animals were put on earth for his benefit. What a vainglorious bunch of idiots we are.

      Stefanus - 2011-12-24 23:20

      Really Derpy. They were put here just for you,hey?

      John - 2011-12-25 05:52

      @sarah.boutell, I agree with you on Rhinos not being viable for commercial farming, but perlemoen commercial farming is gaining momentum...check here

  • Sharon - 2011-12-23 19:23

    Rhinos are such incredibly beautiful majestic creatures. I think their extermination is a symptom of everything that is wrong with our world today. Good luck, I pray the experiment is a roaring success. Question: Isn't there something that can be done for sharks as well?

      Louis B. Ebers?hn - 2011-12-23 20:11

      Definetly, same principle of conservation through utilisation applies.

  • louis.b.ebersohn - 2011-12-23 19:30

    CITES Delisting of rhino and elephant should be done as was done with ostrish and crocodile's. Commercial farming has contributed immensely toward proving that Conservation through utilisation works. Stop playing the emotional game. Supply and demand is the way things work, do so responsibly and professionally based on facts. Elephant's meat is even lower in colestrol than ostrish meat which would make it the healthiest meat on earth. Wildlife is a renewable resource, manage it properly.

      craigtjames - 2011-12-23 20:07

      Honestly - if this is your solution to cholesterol, eat fruit and stay away from meat completely. And talking about wildlife which is a renewable resource,how renewable is the recently extinct Thylacine,Quagga,Pyrenean Ibex etc?

  • Steyn - 2011-12-23 19:31

    Red-nose Rhino's - Season's greetings to you all!!!

  • Wesley - 2011-12-23 19:31

    Can't somebody make a wood/plastic shape rhino horn with viagra pill powder inside and we called it the Super Woema Rhino horn. We could export this at a cheap price to china and then let them use that. Then they leaf our Rhinos alone

  • ReunionofIntelligentMinds - 2011-12-23 19:38

    Kung Fu only got 6 years. Why not make him an example and give him life without parole, send him to max prison and announce to the world the very harsh sentence if one gets caught poaching rhinos or for that matter any other animal.

  • Shoe - 2011-12-23 19:38

    Poach the poachers. All of them, and leave their sorry asses to rot in the wood. Surely, no pity for the scumbags here.

  • barry.mcbride - 2011-12-23 19:42

    The same thing should be done to elephants too then!

      Garth - 2011-12-24 06:27

      Rhino horn - mainly keratin. Elephant tusk - mainly calcium. Very different.

      barry.mcbride - 2011-12-24 07:23

      @Gareth: ok thanks, I didn’t know that and have learnt something new!

      John - 2011-12-25 11:04

      @Garth. $hit, so I won't get a hard on if i eat elephant tusk. Damn

  • Anton Mönnig - 2011-12-23 19:57

    Good idea, although these horns should be properly poisoned, with lethal substances such as arsenic or cyanide. It's time these poachers are poached.

  • Herrle - 2011-12-23 19:57

    I think, or let's rather say I feelbthat poison in rhino horns should kill people that use it for medical purposes. I know it sounds drastic, but reeeealy

  • Louis B. Ebers?hn - 2011-12-23 20:34

    Proteins are an important part of every cell in our body; essential for energy, growth and repair. Protein from food consists of extensive chains of amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be produced in the body from other proteins or carbohydrates. However, essential amino acids, cannot, and need to be consumed in the diet. Through digestion, we break down protein into free amino acids. Red meat provides an excellent source of the essential amino acids that we need (Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine). Following protein breakdown, free amino acids are put together in a specific order to build a new protein (protein synthesis). Beyond protein synthesis, healthy blood lipid profiles and glucose homeostasis have been associated with higher levels of dietary protein. For long-term weight loss, improvements in satiety levels, a measure of the state of fullness between meals has been demonstrated in those individuals who opt for protein rich foods like red meat. Significant reductions in triglyceride, total cholesterol, LDL-Cholesterol and very LDL concentrations, as well as healthier HDL-cholesterol have also been associated with the consumption of lean red meat.

      Rina - 2011-12-23 20:46

      please tell me what this has to do with rhino horn?

      craigtjames - 2011-12-23 20:47

      Thank you for the medical breakdown. The issue is that Rhino's are poached for their horns for the absolutely "useless to mankind"-trade. Horns are used in traditional Asian medicine, and for dagger handles in Yemen and Oman. One repeated misconception is that rhinoceros horn in powdered form is used as an aphrodisiac in Traditional Chinese Medicine.It is, in fact, prescribed for fevers and convulsions. Neither have been proven by evidence-based medicine. Normally the poachers cut of the horn and leave the beast to rot.

      Gungets - 2011-12-25 07:43

      @Louis - it is customary to quote your sources for information. In the above case - - and this article is about rhino poaching, not the merits of red meat, even though I agree with it.

  • Phillie - 2011-12-23 20:51

    Why not put real poison like arsenic into the horns. Those who kill rhino's or let them be killed to feed their perceived pleasures should also share the dying

      Sean - 2011-12-24 00:17

      Or just inject the horns with habanero sauce and let them try it as a rub-rub, they will think twice before rubbing it on again!

  • Cheryl - 2011-12-23 20:54

    lets inject dye into the poachers brains...why? just for the hell of it...hahahaha

  • TheWatcher - 2011-12-23 22:45

    "The rhinos would experience no side effects from the substances in their horns." If this statement is true then I'm 100% behind this. Roll it out for all the parks and lets give these idiots with malfunctioning winkies the runs.

  • Kenjaymay - 2011-12-23 22:51

    Why don't we use a poison that kills, and then let America nuke their country as well! End of Problem!

  • markus.venter - 2011-12-24 07:31

    Great Ida, but what about developing a chemical that leaves the user impotent? Scientists know how viagra works, so do the opposite and inject that into the horn. That will leave the damn user of whatever potency concocsion they create in a rather flimsy state, proving the rihno horn theory a myth and leaving him dry...

      Mel - 2011-12-25 22:22

      Saltpeter... they used it for exactly that purpose (suppressing the male sex drive) long ago in the Army ; )

  • Colourless - 2011-12-24 08:04

    Love it! Well done!!!!

  • Joy - 2011-12-24 08:20

    Amazing how an SA citizen was recently hanged for drugs in that country, yet these people come to ours and get away with killing our Rhinos. Find them and hang them!!!

      John - 2011-12-25 06:25

      @Joy, I get your drift, unfortunately the end user, those slanty eyed little fuc%%s havent got the balls to kill them themselves, they use our brainless inhabitants to do it for them

  • Garth - 2011-12-24 08:44

    "Dehorning, it's very painful for the animals. It's traumatising and it makes them look different.' Hey brain surgeon, do you think that a rhino gives a sh1t about its appearance? The horn is functional, not aesthetic. And in any event, if de-horning is carried out by qualified personnel it is no more painful then it is for your dog to have its nails trimmed by a qualified person. Any way, all that both of these preventative practises (on the rhino, not your pooch) will have no more success in saving the species from human greed, than South Africa has of getting an educated, honest, integrous, ethical government in place after the next elections.

      Mike - 2011-12-25 01:03

      @garth, the subject with the missing horn might not care but will this have any effect on successfully finding a mate?

      Garth - 2011-12-25 07:02

      No mike, not necessarily. Both male and female rhino have horns, so the horn is not an exhibition of male virility. Customarily, the female white rhinos horn is longer than the males. He is territorial and uses his horn, rubbed on rocks, trees, fence-lines(grooves in the horns), etc. as part of his `territory staking.' This results in a short, stubby horn that has a broad base above the male's nostrils. Younger males, before they have established their own territories, customarily have horns that resemble a female's, possibly as a defence mechanism - they do not attract the antagonism of the territorial male. Even having this longer horn, they are usually unsuccessful in wresting a territory from an older male, until such time as they have gained the sparring experience and body bulk to successfully challenge the incumbent. Now, the most important part: the female is not attracted to the male. She advertises her oestrus, through her urine and scent and if within his home-range or territory, he will track her down - snout on the ground like a tracker dog - and `herd' her into the heart of his enclave. There he `imprisons' her until such time as she submits to a bout or two of hanky-panky.

  • johnkk - 2011-12-24 08:46

    Although I support the procedure I am not convinced to what degree the poaching will be prevented. My reasoning is that the people cutting off the horn could possibly disguise it to the buyer who is taking it to China etc. The Rhino killer and buyer are not necessarily the same people. But it sure is a move in the right direction. It is time that Law abiding citizens in SA start fight back.

  • Jay - 2011-12-24 09:02

    Fantastic, Good job!

  • charmaine.groenewald - 2011-12-24 15:37

    They should actually dye the horn a recognisable colour so that the idiots can see it has been poisened otherwise they will still kill the rhino thinking the horn is fine. That is if they even have half a brain cell to think that one out!

  • Jay - 2011-12-24 16:45

    what a great idea. although I would not mind if the poachers or their clients were harmed by the poisons.

  • Trevor - 2011-12-25 07:42

    Idea...lets promote hunting...of poachers...make it legal to hunt poachers,shoot to kill, let nature dipose of the bodies...let their last GOOD act is to be part of "nature" tired of being politically correct...kill the bastards

  • Tanie - 2011-12-25 17:19

    Well done for this...we need to save our Rhinos....

  • Mel - 2011-12-25 22:19

    Well done!

  • xenonza - 2011-12-28 10:26

    WELL DONE! It would however be a bonus if the poachers could see at a glance that the rhino's horn is injected with the poisons - thereby they won't be killing the rhino and then finding out after the fact that the horns have been injected??

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