Anti-Caturday: While We’re on the Subject of Horns…

Rhino crossing by Colin the Scot, on Flickr

Ah, the rhinoceros, nature’s tank. This relative of the horse famously has at least one horn on its head (African rhinos have two horns) and skin thick enough to qualify as armor plating and weigh easily over a metric tonne. But though they can cause vicious damage to anything trying to prey on them, they’re completely vegan; they eat leaves when they can get them but their digestive system can also handle rougher plant material if necessary. Because they’re so dangerous, an adult rhino has only one predator; humans.

Humans hunt rhinos mainly for their horns. Rhino horn is used especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treatment of fever and convulsions, not as an aphrodisiac as is often thought. Because of its alleged (studies have all failed to find any effect from the substance) life saving properties, in most black markets rhino horn powder is often more valuable by weight than gold. It’s both sad and a little ironic that rhino horn is made up of keratin, that is, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails.

Rhino 2 by Marion Doss, on Flickr

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