Millions of years of evolution couldn’t have prepared rhinos for their biggest threat
While Africa’s rhinos have multiple defence mechanisms to prevent them from the teeth and claws of their natural enemies, there’s little they can do when met with the power of a gun. Their skin is thick but not bulletproof, so poachers can take down these mighty beasts from a distance. These criminals sneak into parks and track the rhinos down to get their hands on one thing: the horn.
A rhino’s horn is made of keratin, an extremely common protein in the animal world, but there’s big demand for it in traditional Chinese medicine. Increasingly, the horns are also being bought for display as symbols of wealth and status in some countries.
If a poacher’s bullet doesn’t kill a rhino immediately, removing the horn often results in a slow and painful death. Cutting through just the horn would leave the animal vulnerable but wouldn’t hurt it, but poachers are thinking only of profit; they saw into the skin to make sure they take as much horn as possible, leaving the victim with a bleeding wound open to infection and parasites.
In the seven years from 2007 to 2014 rhino poaching exploded by over 9,000 per cent. thankfully, this growth has begun to slow down made from the same protein as our hair and nails, rhino horn is sold for huge amounts on the black market