Woo harms not only humans, but animals, too. As you may know, many rhinoceros have been killed simply for their horns, which are regarded as aphrodesiacs and curatives in the Far East. (You might also know that rhino horns aren’t bone, but keratin with a calcium core. They are not, as is often believed, composed of hair.)
Now that there are strict bans against exporting rhino horns from Europe, thieves are starting to snap off the horns from museum specimens (see the sad photo of Rosie the rhino below). According to an article in Friday’s New York Times, there have been 30 such thefts this year.
Rosie the rhino, now hornless in the Ipswich Museum (from NYT article)
What surprises me is the value of these horns:
While horns have sold recently for upward of $200,000, the powder, Mr. Lawson said, is reported to fetch £60,000 a kilo (about $45,000 a pound) on the black market — more than gold, heroin or cocaine.
Sadly, the strict ban on exportation from Europe has led to an increase in the slaughter of live rhinos in Africa. As the Times reports, 260 rhinos have been killed this year alone in South Africa; poachers often saw the horns off of live animals and let them bleed to death.
Needless to say, the ground-up keratin horns have no medicinal value.
As for Rosie, they’re not going to leave her hornless:
Museum officials said they debated whether to leave Rosie hornless as a reminder of what had happened, but decided instead to replace her missing horn with an ersatz one.
“We will have a big sign saying, ‘This is a fake,’ ” said Ms. Rudkin, the local council member. “ ‘This is not real. So don’t come and get it.’ ”