While we were in South Africa we were fortunate enough to see many white rhinos with immaculate horns – some of which may be worth up to $300,000 on the black market. For some reason the horns today fetch something like $60,000/kilogram and the adults have horns that weigh approximately 5 kilograms. The horns themselves are just made up of keratin – yes, keratin – the same exact materials that make up human finger nails, hair and horse hooves. Why does it cost so much? Tough question to answer but apparently in eastern medicine there is a belief that the horns are magical and can cure many ills and they also can serve as decorative handles for knives and other fine jewelry. Overall, it seems like an expensive price to pay for a ‘cure’ when I can just chew my finger nails and get the same medicinal effect?
White Rhinos (South Africa)
Unfortunately, the war on the White Rhino horn trade in South Africa is still ongoing to the point where the country recently (briefly) lifted their ban on domestic trade of the horn. It was reinstated but is currently under review and there is a chance that South Africa decides to lessen the penalties on trading the horn within their country. Clearly, this would be a negative development as hundreds of these animals are marred or killed each year WITH the ban in place. Imagine what will happen if suddenly the penalties for committing the crime and trading the horn are lessened.