Rhinoceroses have the most amazing nasal horns. The thing is made of Keratin which is the same protein with which our nails and hair are made of. These horns are worth millions of dollars. Many people believe them to have divine healing power and are ready to pay a ton to get their hands on those.
The nasal horn helps the animal to protect itself. But at present, it has become the reason for poachers to hunt the rhinos mercilessly.
General Description of Rhinoceros Horns
How heavy is a rhino horn? Usually, the African giants have the heaviest nasal spikes. The average African rhinoceros has about 1.5 to 2 kilograms of weight on its nose. But the White rhinoceroses have the largest horns of about 4 kilograms on average. Their Asian cousins have rather small horns of less than a kilogram.
The length of the horn is about 8 to 59 inches according to different species. The longest one however was found in 2006 on the nose of a white rhinoceros. It was measured to be 59 inches.
The longest black rhino’s nasal spike was recorded to be 51 inches in Kenya in 1928.
In 1909 their Indian cousin was found with a 23 inches long nib on the nose. Which is the longest for the Indian species until today. The Sumatran rhinos also have a world record of the longest nibs, the same as their Indian cousins, which is 23 inches.
What Are Rhinos Horns Made of?
The huge rhino horn is composed of Keratin. This substance is a protein that is also found in human hair and nails. It is the primary substance of the body part.
But there are two more substances that the organ is made of. CT scans have proved the organ to consist of Calcium and Melanin. These three are considered the core elements of the body part.
The nasal spike tends to bend and grow towards the head. This occurs due to the faster growth of the Keratin in the front of the organ than that in the back.
The Calcium in the horn helps it to be stronger and the Melanin protects against the Ultra Violet rays.
Are Rhino Horns Strong?
The core of the horn has maximum Calcium in it and hence it is the toughest part. The Calcium deposits help the rhino horn to grow as a strong and hard material. But the outside of the organ which is exposed to sun rays is rather soft.
It appears to be shaped according to how the giant uses it. The top of it can either become pointy or worn out as per its use. However, the pointy top can break sometimes after a fight between two males.
How Many Horns Do Rhinos Have?
Both males and females of any species have horns. In most cases, it is often seen that female horns are comparatively longer than males. Though males’ ones have more girth.
All the species both African and Asian have pointed nibs on their noses. But some of them have doubles and others have single ones. Both the Black and White rhinoceroses have double horns.
Sumatran rhinos also have double horns on the nose but the positioning of those is somewhat different than their western contemporaries.
While both the Indian and Javan rhinos have a single horn. However, the western types are found to be more aggressive than their eastern contemporaries.
Do Rhinos Need Their Horns?
The main purpose of the horn is protection. The giant uses the organ to protect itself and its baby from other animals. The herbivore is also found to scratch itself with the keratin nib.
Often it is also found to let out anger or frustration by destroying a tree or a mound with its horns. As a result, the horn is also helpful for the mental health of the rhinoceros.
Other foraging acts such as digging for water or edible roots or breaking higher branches off the tree are also done with the help of the horns.
Lastly, the horns are a sign of power and desire. The males with larger horns are found to be more desirable to the females. The rhino can work in a lot of dimensions with the help of its horn.
How Much is a Rhino Horn Worth?
The rhino horn is valued so much that heists are planned by robbers to break into museums just to steal those. In many countries, in recent times the smuggled product is valued more than truly astonishing gold. The rates can go up to 100,000$/ kg depending on the species and how rare it is.
In 2011, Europe was blown away with such heist sprees. Museums in more than seven countries were attacked by groups of masked men just to steal some rhinoceros heads. But their main interest was the horns. The most famous robbery took place in Dubin in 2013. About half a million dollars worth of rhino horns were stolen from a museum in Dublin, Ireland.
There are cases of museums and personal collections of Africa and America also meeting the same fate quite suddenly. But what is the reason behind such a craze?
Rhinoceroses went almost extinct due to the extreme demand for their horn. After the year 2007, the poaching and hunting of the rhinos were boundaryless. Per year the number of victim-rhinos went higher. As a result, there is only a handful of them left in the wild compared to before.
Why Are Rhinos Horns So Valuable?
The horns are smuggled into different countries by corrupt and dishonest businessmen. They provide supplies as per the demand of the country. But most consumers of the rhino horn are in the country of Vietnam.
The gradual ascend of the millionaires in Vietnam in recent times is considered to be the principal reason behind this. As the money increased so did the unhealthy lifestyle.
The millionaires use the carved products made out of the rhinos’ pinnacle as symbols of social status. They also consider the rhino horn powder as a party drug and serve it along with alcohol.
Also, many rumors about the power of the horn curing cancer are heard in the country. As a result, people subconsciously get attracted to such products.
What Are Rhinos Horns Used For?
The huge cornet is generally sold in a powdered state. The powder is very demanding. It is used in many ways. Some of them are as follows,
Asian traditional medicine
Chinese traditional medicine is claimed to use the rhinoceros horn for various purposes. Though many experts disagree with the fact, China consumes quite a lot of the rhino horn per year. But they are not the maximum number of consumers of the smuggled product.
The maximum customers of the cornet are from the country of Vietnam. For this reason, after the year 2007, the poaching rates are found to be ascending skyward. In the year 2012, there were about 688 confirmed global kills. But why is Vietnam so fond of the smuggled horn?
The reason behind this is rumored as that, rhino horn powder once cured a Vietnamese politician’s cancer. After that, they became addicted to the organ. Even many doctors prescribe the powder to their patients.
This specialized powder can cost people thousands of dollars. Every year the number of Vietnamese consumers of the powder is increasing.
The polished horn is like a trophy to many millionaires. They often value it more than elephant ivory. It acts as an excellent economical status for the rich.
Cure for cancer
It is a very common misconception to think that powdered rhino horns can cure cancer. Scientifically it is impossible.
There are a lot of cancer patients still unattended in Asian countries because of insufficient machinery and specialized hospitals. To be exact, there are only 25 radiotherapy machines for the population of about 87 million. Again 150,000 new cases are being discovered per year.
The rhino horn powder is considered to cure hangovers also. Many people claimed to be sober just after consuming some of it even though they drank a lot of alcohol. And who doesn’t want a magical product that instantly cures your hangovers? Hence, the demands keep increasing.
Besides, for centuries myths about the dust of the rhino apex curing diseases like arthritis and gout have been available. These historical myths include the cure for headache, hallucination, typhoid, snake bite, food poisoning, etc.
Lastly, many carvings are made of the horn. For example teacups, belts, hairpins, combs, buttons, etc are carved using the sharp horn. These are then sold at a very higher price than the regular ones.
Rich folk buy these accessories to decorate their houses. As a result, the never-ending demand helps the businessmen with a good amount of profit per year.
6 Interesting Rhino Horn Facts
- The baby rhino born without horn.
- The Rhinoceros can live without its horn. But poachers often saw the horn while the animal was awake and then left the animal in immense pain. Ultimately it dies of excessive bleeding.
- The horn can grow back. It takes almost 3 years for the horn to grow into its full length. After that, if it is broken or cut off it wouldn’t grow back. But before that when the horn is growing state if it gets broken or harmed, it grows right back.
- In the African subcontinent, a rhino is being killed every 22 hours for its horn.
- The rhino horns are not ivory. Because they are made of keratin and are more close to nails and hair. Whereas ivory is a substance that is found to have a cross-hatched pattern appearing in the cross-section. Only the elephant tusks have such patterns and hence are named ivories.
- California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Washington are the 5 states that currently banned the owning of rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory. Besides, China has recently advised a ban on the owning of similar products and also tiger bones.
It is completely inhumane to hunt the majestic creatures for their horns believing in myths and rumors. It is a total humanitarian catastrophe.
Currently many private and government organizations have taken initiatives to save the majestic creature. They are trying their best to create awareness.
But if the illegal trading can not be stopped then a rhino-less world is not too far to be seen. Which can create multiple paradoxes and climate change that can leave humanity in tears for decades.
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