The Rhino poaching for their horns is not getting any better, and many feel it is time to start doing something about it! Stats show that in 2014, poachers killed about 3 Rhinos a day in South Africa. Their numbers are rapidly decreasing, with only 20 000 white and 5 055 black rhinos left.
Nicola Whitfield reports that Pembient, a US- based business, is hoping to produce a synthetic rhino horn that is very similar to the real thing. These horns will cost much less than the real horn, hopefully urging buyers to go for these instead. The horns are biologically very similar to the real horns; they even contain a bit of rhino DNA.
The company was started by Matthew Markus and George Bonaci, and they are dedicating it to the conservation of animals. Markus explains how these horns work: “We are working towards a bio-identical product by reverse-engineering rhino horn down to the smallest degree.” He also adds: “By inserting a gene that codes for a rhino keratin into yeast, the fungus can be transformed into a rhino-keratin-production factory”.
Synthetic Rhino Horn
Pembient’s plan is to flood the black markets with these synthetic horns, which will hopefully reduce the worth and the demand for the real thing. If their plan works, there should be less poaching and more rhinos saved!
There are others however who are against this idea. Other conservation groups such as World Wildlife Foundation believe that this will not stop people from buying the real thing if they can afford it. A reported 45% of people have said they would not buy the fake horn as it is not the same thing.
Let’s hope that Pembient’s plan succeeds and something can be done to stop rhino poaching!