29 September 2010

Rhino horn: the real dilemma

With laws in place and authorities willing to enforce them, Joanne Hart wants to know why rhinos are still being butchered for their horns.

On Tuesday 21 September a diver, allegedly poaching perlemoen, was attacked by a great white shark close to Dyer Island, Gansbaai.

In the same week, South Africa discovered that the trail of slaughtered and disfigured rhinos across the Limpopo province were, allegedly, the grisly work of a poaching syndicate now under investigation. Among those arrested were two veterinarians. And all this is about a 5kg horn that comprises, basically, tightly-packed hair, and a shellfish.

An odd thing to die for
Why are people dying and going to prison for horn and mollusks? Because, according to some traditions, when these articles are dried and crushed, they operate as powerful medications and act as aphrodisiacs. 

Hippocrates had a lot of high ideas about medicine (Greek, 460BC, known in the West as the Father of Medicine), and one of the greatest gifts he brought the world was the concept of questioning the spiritual/mental/traditional understanding of illness and cure.


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