3 min read

Aspirin, Herbs Or Keratin: The Choice Is Life-Changing

In attempts to reduce demand for rhino horn, researchers and conservationists have tried various methods of replacement; the thought being similar substitutions would give our rhinos a break.

In the early 1990s, conservationists encouraged use of Saiga antelope horn as an alternative. At the time their numbers were in the millions, overpopulating some areas. But the plan backfired, and sadly the animals declined to fewer than 30,000 due to rampant poaching. Ultimately the antelope wound up on the same endangered species list as the rhino.

Saiga antelope. (Photo: Darwin Initiative)

The horns of Buffalo, Yak and other bovine have also been used as options to rhino, both knowing and unknowingly. (As the number of rhino plummet, more counterfeit product are flooding the market.)

In the search for a more ethical replacement, there have been powders and elixirs advertised as "rhino horn alternatives"most of which essentially contain keratin (the main ingredient in rhino horn).

One recent group has a product they've touted as "biologically identical material" made of New Zealand sheep wool. Claiming health benefits from the concoction, the Vietnamese-Americans hope was to curb poaching and benefit rangers from the sale of their product. Rhinoceros Horn alternative

In a 2007 study listed by CITES, several herbs were tested on the same ailments rhino horn is used to treat. The following tables show there was a positive effect of the herbs on the listed ailments.

Options with both Eastern medicine (use of herbs) and Western medicine (aspirin, etc.) exist. With such viable proven remedies, there simply is no "medicinal" need for rhino horn. Through educational campaigns, TCM users are being shown these alternatives are better than the decimation of a species. Their choices will directly effect the outcome of our fight for rhinos.