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Until now, nothing has worked to curtail rhino poaching, and 200 of the endangered animals have already been killed in South Africa this year. Tired of watching an entire species vanish before their eyes, a private game reserve took matters into their own hands. The idea isn’t new, but Sabi Sand Game Reserve is the first to inject chemicals that are toxic to humans into the horns of 100 rhinos. In addition to making whoever consumes the rhino horn very ill, the parasiticides are accompanied by a dye that can be detected by airport scanners – two tactics that the reserve hopes will put a small dent in the lucrative trade backed by the South African government.

Traffic, IUCN, endangered species, poaching, Rhino, rhino horn, poisoned rhino horn, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa, game park, South Africa National Parks, wildlife trade, illegal wildlife trade,
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Andrew Parker, Chief Executive of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association in South Africa told The Guardian that they want to send the message to international poaching syndicates that they are “wasting their time” at Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The chemicals injected into the horn are both legal and available over the counter and are usually used to control ticks on cattle and other animals. Also, while the chemicals will cause diarrhea and nausea, they aren’t fatal.

The reserve has launched a widespread media campaign and posted signs on their fences to make poachers aware that their rhinos have been poisoned. While South Africa National Parks supports the initiative, according to The Guardian, they lament that costs will prohibit a similar intervention with free ranging animals in larger parks such as Kruger, which has been viciously targeted in recent months. But Traffic is less enthusiastic. Tom Milliken, who is responsible for monitoring the trade of rhino horn, told the paper that poisoning the horn, like dehorning, will only divert poachers to other, less-controlled areas.

Via The Guardian