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Rhino horns more valuable than gold-diamonds

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  17 May 2015 12:00 AM GMT

* More than 74 rhinos were killed in Kaziranga tiol Park since 2011 (2011- 3, 2012 – 11, 2013- 27, 2014 – 27).

* The horns are reportedly traded to South East Asian countries like Vietm, Thailand and Chi.

* Bloomberg News had reported in 2014 that the price of rhino horn in Asia has approached $60,000 per pound.

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, May 16: Rhinoceros horn fetches poachers more than what they would get from selling comparable weight of gold or diamonds, a critical factor that is driving to extinction one of the world's largest herbivores, says a new study.

"One of the critical factors behind the disturbing trend is the tremendous fincial incentive for poachers to sell animal parts for consumer goods and food. For example, rhinoceros horn is more valuable by weight than gold, diamonds or cocaine," said William Ripple, the study’s lead author, a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry.

Bloomberg News had reported in 2014 that the price of rhino horn in Asia has approached $60,000 per pound.

“Decades of conservation efforts are being reversed by the entrance of organized crime into the ivory and rhino horn markets,” says co-author Van Valkenburgh.

Led by William Ripple of Oregon State University, an intertiol team of 15 scientists including Professor David Macdold and Dr Chris Sandom of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), conducted a comprehensive alysis of data on the world’s largest herbivores (of adult body mass over 100 kilograms on average), including endangerment status, key threats and ecological consequences of population decline. The researchers publish their observations in Science Advances.

Herbivore hunting, according to the study, occurs for two major purposes — meat consumption and the global trade in animal parts. An estimated one billion humans subsist on wild meat, they write. “The market for medicil uses can be very strong for some body parts, such as rhino horn,” said Ripple.

WildCRU’s team also specialises in illegal wildlife trade and Professor Macdold said: “Respect for local customs is an important courtesy, but one that does not extend to tolerating the pointless extinction of wild species that are beyond fincial value.”

The researchers noted that many of the world’s largest herbivores — including several species of elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and gorillas — are in danger of becoming extinct because of the tremendous fincial incentive for poachers to sell their body parts.

The researchers found that between 2002 and 2011, the number of forest elephants declined by 62 percent.

More than 100,000 elephants — one-fifth of the world’s wild savanh elephant population — were poached between 2010 and 2012.

From 2007 to 2013, the number of rhinoceroses poached skyrocketed from 13 per year to an alarming 1,004 per year.

“If this continues, there would be very few or no savanh elephants in 10 years, and no African rhinos in 20 years,” said Blaire Van Valkenburgh, professor of ecology and evolutiory biology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

More than 74 rhinos were killed in Assam’s Kaziranga tiol Park, an abode of the one-horned rhino, since 2011 (3 in 2011, 11 in 2012, 27 in 2013, 27 in 2014 and 6 this year). The horns are reportedly traded to South East Asian countries like Vietm, Thailand and Chi.

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