Friday, May 18, 2012

Rhino horn myth - Maree


(Ink sketch and colour wash on Bockingford 300gsm - done from one of my photographs taken at one of our local Game Reserves)

All we ever read in the media is statistics of all the Rhino atrocities, and nothing as to what can actually be done to stop this. Education is and always will be the best tool. 

With today’s network of communication tools, such as social media, it is now possible for scientific studies to reach a global audience like never before – and we can move closer to busting these persistent myths about rhino horn, which are indeed the root of the rhino crisis. By raising public awareness and educating others about the truth behind rhino horn, we can make a difference. 

As part of continued efforts to set the record straight on rhino horn’s so-called 'curative' properties, three scientific studies were re-introduced, confirming that rhino horn has no medicinal value. The studies were conducted by different teams of researchers at separate institutions. In each case, the results were conclusive: There is no scientific evidence to support claims of rhino horn’s usefulness as a medicine. 

The studies “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, like fingernails, is made of agglutinated hair” and “has no analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmolytic nor diuretic properties” and “no bactericidal effect could be found against suppuration and intestinal bacteria”. And medically, "it’s the same as if you were chewing your own nails”. 

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. Tragically, by 1993, ten years after the study was published, Africa’s Black Rhino population had plummeted to just 2,300. 

Conducted by Hoffmann-LaRoche, the research was published in 'The Environmentalist'  

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13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I wish there was a better way to get the word out to these Asians. I have posted this to my FB page. Nice drawing.

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    1. So do I Sandy! Thanks a lot, appreciate!

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  3. I posted it on my Facebook. I know it's a symbolic effort, but it may reach someone who will reach someone else. Beautiful work!

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    1. Thanks a lot Sandy. And yes, every little effort helps!

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  4. This is fantastic! One of my favorite things about doing natural history illustration (and related communication) is the capacity to target the intersection between popular culture and ecological knowledge, and use that as a starting point for education and discussion.

    Bethann
    fruitrootleaf.com

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    1. Thanks a lot Bethann! The two go hand-in-hand, but cultural beliefs are so long-standing and very difficult to break. We have the same problem here in South Africa in as far our plants and animals are concerned, used as "muti" (traditional healing medicines) and results in thousands of innocent animals being killed every year for their supposedly "healing" body parts.

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  5. It's a beautiful ink and wash, Maree. As for their killing, "unbelievably stupid" would be only the start of my tirade ...

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    1. Thanks so much Kathryn! And yes, my starting tirade as well with a lot of extras thrown in!

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  6. beautiful sketch, message and aim. Nevertheless, ignorance and deep-rooted prejudice are always stronger than education.Maybe only by commercializing "fake" rhino horn at a much lower price could save the rhino.And that can be done only with an international campaign aimed to Asians.

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    1. That's so true Concetta and that is a fantastic idea! But it has been proven over and over that "internationally" it's not going to happen - the only hope is for the South African government to launch a massive campaign, then maybe it might have an impact...

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