Target:  Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Goal:  Stop the illegal smuggling of rhino horns

Poaching of rhinoceros for their horns in southern Africa has been on the rise. Horns are smuggled and sold to buyers who believe the horns hold medical properties. This week seven arrests were made in four states following an 18 month investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security. The demand for rhino horn needs to be quelled, and poaching of rhinoceros needs to end, otherwise remaining rhinoceros will continue on their path to extinction. The recent arrests in the US are a positive sign that smuggling will not be tolerated in this country.

However, the source of the problem lies in countries who value the horns, and countries that have rhino populations. In 2011 341 rhinos were killed in South Africa national parks.  In comparison, only 36 rhinos were killed in 2005. These numbers are increasing due to the demands of countries in Asia and the middle east. Countries such as China and Vietnam believe ground rhino horn can cure cancer. Rhino horns are used in the middle east to make the handles of ornamental daggers. One kilogram of rhino horn can bring in $35,000 on the black market. The trafficking of rhinoceros horn violates federal law and all species of rhinoceros are protected under international law. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which regulates rhino horn trade, must stop all illegal poaching and smuggling of rhino horn.

Demand for rhino horn is at an all time high for reasons that are useless and antiquated. The belief that rhino horn can cure cancer is absurd since the horns are made of keratin, the same material human fingernails are composed of, and there is no evidence that keratin has any medicinal properties. For this, rhinos are shot with tranquilizer darts and their horns are sawed off leaving them to bleed to death.

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