3 min read

Can Rhinos Be Saved With Scientific Gamble?

<p> Ruth Hartnup / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruthanddave/53083944" target="_blank">Flickr</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" target="_blank">CC BY 2.0</a>) </p>

Each day at least three rhino die for two reasons: the belief that horn cures medical ailments, and as a status symbol in Vietnamese high society. But, attention rhino horn users: the vast majority of the horn you purchase is fake, according to an Oxpeckers report.

Karl Ammann from Natural History Magazine stated "probably up to 90 percent of end consumers (of rhino horn) unknowingly purchase products made of water buffalo or other bovine horn."

Now a Seattle-based company, Pembient, is adding to the market of "faux horn." They are using biotechnology to fabricate rhino horn at prices below the level of poached horns. Their goal is to use this substitution to meet the demand. According to the company, you can't physically tell the difference.

According to one of Pembient's founders, many wildlife traders would be happy to use a genetically engineered substitute."We surveyed users of rhino horn and found that 45 percent of them would accept using rhino horn made from a lab," he says. "In comparison, only 15 percent said they would use water buffalo horn, the official substitute for rhino horn."

With fake horn saturating the market, does it help satiate the demand? Or does it simply perpetuate the myth that it is readily available and useful?

Does fake horn ...

  • Help?
  • Hurt?
  • Not sure?

Cast your vote in the comments.