Should we allow rhinoceros to be killed only for their horns?

by 1530518 on Septembre 12, 2016 - 8:25pm

            In Karin Brulliard’s article, “Rhinos are having their horns hacked off for art. The U.S. confiscated them and burned them at a zoo” published in the National Post, she informs us that a bonfire in San Diego Zoo safari was made by the U.S Fish and Wildlife service, an agency whose mission is to conserve and protect wildlife, in order to draw people’s attention on the fact that experts are saying Rhinos could become extinct in 15 years. With only 5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos remaining in the wild in Africa how can we expect the specie to survive if we let illegal hunter slaughter them only for their horns.  In the fire created by the agency they destroyed whole horns, ornaments and products advertised as medical worth up to 1$ million dollars to make a point.   Fish and Wildlife claimed that rhino’s horns are in demand because they are believed to be keys to remedies such as cancer treatment and hangover cure. They have also been known for the high status they bring, one of success and wealth.


            However, according to Yufang Gao, a doctoral student in anthropology at Yale University, that is not the true cause, at least not in his native China.  After doing research on the subject, he found out that the market is interested in the art and antiques not as a status of wealth and success but as an investment piece.  To stop the illegal hunting of the species he believes that the problem should be analyzed differently.  He states that most of the conservation communication programs only focus on the medicinal value of rhino horn when it should also give importance to the art and antique market as a separate trade and by targeting people who buy rhinoceroses horns because of their collectible and investment values. Their healing power comes from an ancient belief that their horns were used to treat fevers, heart disease and other disease when they were roaming in ancient China.  Even though the belief hasn’t died, it isn’t the main cause of poaching in China.  Instead, rhino horns in China are viewed as excellent investments because of their intrinsic values rooted in the rarity of their material. 


           The Westerners view of the rhino horn is not the same as the Chinese one.  According to Gao’s research, he found out that Seventy-five percent of the Chinese articles reported on rhino horn’s investment value, and just 29 percent reported on its medicinal value, while 84 percent of Western articles mentioned its medicinal value, and only 6 percent its investment value.  This shows why Westerns are more focused on the healing power the horns may have, whilst Chinese are more focused on their investment value.  In China, they see rhino horns as something to preserve as a collectible or to give as a present, whilst in the western world it is seen as an object with healing abilities. Because the belief that rhino’s horn’s contain curative power is deeply rooted in the culture making hard for people to stop hunting rhinos.


            The conflict of values presented in this subject is the animals right and the greater good.  On one side, there is the rhinoceros right to live, as mentioned earlier. And on the other, there is the belief that rhino’s horns could bring some huge changes in medicine.  If it was true, than it would bring something for the greater good of the human race.  It would give us the opportunity to maybe find new medicine for disease such as cancer, heart disease, ones that we can cure right now.  It could revolutionize the medical industry. Also, rhino’s horns are a big part in the Chinese industry.  For them, it represents a high value that makes the economy roll even more.


            Knowing that both values are important, I strongly believe that rhinoceros should stop being hunted only for their horns. Even though they have a lot of value in the eyes of many for their healing powers, this theory has yet to be proven right, and even if it were true, it is against animals right to kill a specie that is already endangered. According to the endangered species act of 1973 high fines and penalties are being given for such crimes.  Rhinoceros are already classified as an endangered species, so how can we still be killing them for our own selfish belief?  Because of our action, we are going to be the cause of their extinction. Who are we to decide their fate?   If we let people killing rhinoceros only for their horns, what kind of society does that makes us? 


Work cited

Brulliard, B. K. (September 10, 2016). Rhinos are having their horns hacked off for art. The U.S.

confiscated them and burned them at a zoo.  Retrieved from http:/