An Epidemic of Rhino Poaching

17 August 2011. By David Jolly New York Times

As if a rhino’s life wasn’t already hard enough.

A belief in some East Asian countries that medicines made from the endangered beast’s horn can cure cancer is putting growing pressure on fragile Asian and African rhinoceros populations.

Traditionally, rhino horn was used in Chinese medicine to treat fevers, gout, convulsions, rheumatism and other maladies (although, contrary to popular belief, not as an aphrodisiac).

It’s easy to imagine that someone suffering from terminal disease and already predisposed to believe in the efficacy of traditional medicine might be willing to pay any price for a supposed cure. That belief has made China and Vietnam major importers of illegal rhino horns, wildlife officials and conservation organizations say.

With that in mind, Lixin Huang, president of the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, took advantage of a meeting this week of global wildlife trade officials to issue a statement.

Fast Facts

Fast FactsConservationists have identified a number of animals as Indicator Species, meaning that the health and viability of their populations in the wild are believed to reflect the health of the entire ecosystem they inhabit. Sustainability of one species allows other species to thrive. And...

Extinction warning: Only 85 endangered Irrawaddy dolphins on the Mekong

Today the World Wildlife Fund revealed that its research has confirmed that the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin population in the Mekong River numbers just 85. Complicating these dismal numbers was the finding that calf survival was found to be very low, leading researchers to conclude that the small population is declining and at high risk of extinction.

The Irrawaddy dolphin, Mekong river Cambodia. Photo: Copyright © Alice Rocco. Wildlife Conservation Society

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