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Re: NY times article

At 13:57 -0800 4/12/97, Feuk Aaron C wrote:
>On Thu, 4 Dec 1997, Betty Cunningham wrote:
>> Nathan Myhrvold wrote:
>> > >.  Rhino horns and elephant tusk are used almost
>> > >exclusively for display, and intraspecific fights.
>> earlier on this list it was mentioned that rhinos in one of the reserves in
>> (South?) Africa that have had their horns removed to prevent poaching,
>>have a
>> nearly 100% fatality rate amongst their juveniles due to predation.  The
>> aren't just for pretty.>
>*decloaking from lurking*
>       hrm.....why not attach a false horn...made from say kevlar or
>something....? It'd give them something to use as a weapon?

The dehorning experiment was a total failure.  The premise was that,
without a valuable horn, the poachers would leave the Rhinos alone.

In reality there were two main problems with this.  Firstly, after
spending a week or two stalking a Rhino only to discover that it
was dehorned the average poacher would not go "Ah, well, nothing
of value here, let's leave it alone", instead their reaction was more
like "We've wasted two weeks tracking this one, lets kill it so we
don't waste time tracking that one again".   Secondly, not all the
horn was removed (the horn base was retained), so there was still
some valuable keratin left.  Rhino horn is so valuable that even that
small amount was worth a lot to the poachers.

To make matter worse, unless you get a good close look at the Rhino
in profile it is difficult to tell that they are dehorned - so, the fatal
bullet could easily have been despatched before the poacher knew
whether or not the Rhino was dehorned.  A hornless Rhino does
look pretty weird though.

An adult Rhino would be able to defend it's young pretty well
without a horn - the juveniles aren't born with the horn so
they can't use it as defence until they are reasonably big anyway.

A kevlar horn would be indistinguishable from the real thing to
the eyes of a poacher - who would shoot the animal anyway.

I would have to say that the predation in question was mostly
human.  Once the parents have been killed most juveniles
have poor survival chances, horn or not.

Derek Tearne.   ---   @URL Internet Consultants  ---  http://url.co.nz
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.