A necessary action
In the past few years there has been an increase in rhino poaching, with South Africa as a prime target for poachers. With hundreds of rhino being poached annually for their horn, which some people believe has medicinal properties, Inverdoorn Game Reserve was compelled to increase security to protect the reserve’s rhinos.
In 2011 the reserve stepped up security with 24-hour-patrols on foot and, at times, by vehicle and helicopter – sparing no expense to protect their animals. These measures are prohibitively expensive, but completely necessary. Thus far Inverdoorn’s rhinos had been spared, but it became apparent that more needed to be done.
For a long time Inverdoorn’s staff and team of professionals had been thinking of ways to prevent their rhinos from being poached. One of the considerations was producing a horn treatment that would make the horn worthless. After many months of research they developed a substance that, if injected into the horn, would not be harmful to the rhino, but would have a three-fold effect in protecting it: the horn would be dyed, unfit for human consumption and almost impossible to smuggle through an airport terminal.
On 2 December 2011 Inverdoorn administered their barium and dye-infused horn treatment to the three rhinos, just a few days after neighbouring game reserves had their rhinos poached and injured. The dye stains only the inner core of the horn so that the beauty and dignity of the animal is preserved. The barium causes it to become more detectable on an airport scanner. The procedure is quick and painless, significantly reducing any stress to the animal, and poses no threat to its health.
While the horn treatment makes the horn, or any by-products created with the horn, unpalatable for human consumption, it is not lethal nor will it have any long-term, harmful effects for humans.
RhinoProtect is primarily concerned with administering this revolutionary treatment to as many rhinos as they can to ensure that more rhinos are protected than poached. While the treatment has proved to be effective so far, it relies heavily on the involvement of the public to spread the word. Inverdoorn hopes that community-driven awareness programmes will get the message out to those who care about protecting our natural heritage, but also to poachers and ultimately the end-user.
For more information visit www.rhinoprotect.org