Innovative fake rhino horn may help in curbing poachers’ market, scientists sayJune 9, 2021
Scientists have now invented a technique for constructing a fake rhino horn which they hope will put a dent in the illegal horn market which is threatening the survival of the species.
Researchers at the University of Oxford and Fudan University in China recently found a way to make fake rhino horns cheaply from horsehair.
They have found a way to compress and fashion the horsehair in a way that it feels very similar to the real thing – even when the “horn” is cut.
The project hopes to make an artificial horn that is so realistic that it would trick poachers. Their goal is to almost flood the market with fakes that would result in decrease in the value of actual horns in turns.
Scientists say that if the fakes can be produced cheaply, it would automatically cut the prices of actual horns and reduce the monetary incentive for poaching the rhinos.
Prof Fritz Vollrath, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology said, “It appears from our investigation that it is rather easy as well as cheap to make a bio-inspired horn-like material that mimics the rhino’s extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair.”
The Oxford team feels that the fakes would help to confuse the trade. However, there is some worry that it could unintentionally increase the rhino horn market.
The deputy director of Save the Rhino International John Taylor, told the outlet that the fake rhino horns entering the market would actually expand it and even create more demand for the horns, which he feels could deplete their population even faster.
The most important way that he feels will help the rhinos is to concentrate on anti-poaching methods and ways to reduce the demand for consumers.
“There is no substitute for anti-poaching measures at one end and reducing demand at the other,” he said.
Rhino horns are valuable as they are believed to be an aphrodisiac in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a major reason why anti-poaching methods have struggled hard to fight against the constant demand in Asia, according to the outlet.
The horn of a white rhino sells for roughly around $3,000 a pound, but the value can end up being 5 to 10 times that amount on Asian black markets.