Poisoning rhino horns

It was hailed as a ‘silver bullet’ to protect rhinos from the current poaching epidemic. On the surface, the poisoning of rhinos horns seems like a fantastic idea – surely no one would want to consume rhino horn that is laced with poison and toxic chemicals?!

But if you dig a little deeper you see that the issue is not so simple…

The poisoning of rhino horns first appeared on the conservation scene in 2010, when Ed Hern, owner of the Rhino and Lion Reserve near Johannesburg, made a statement claiming that he was planning to inject the horns of the rhinos on his game reserve with poison in an effort to deter poachers. Ed Hern stated that: “The aim would be to kill, or make seriously ill anyone who consumes the horn”.

It was hoped that this proactive solution would prevent rhinos being poached in the first place. At the time the method was experimental, and the exact effects of the poison unknown. However, it was known early on that the poison is not damaging to the rhino itself; a rhino’s horn does not have any direct link to its bloodstream. Ed’s initial idea developed into the Rhino Rescue Project, which saw the concept roll out across South Africa.

The poisoning process involves the drilling of holes directly into the rhino’s horns and then infusing them with highly toxic ectoparasiticides, which are also used to control ticks etc. According to the Rhino Rescue Project, although ectoparasiticides are not lethal to humans in small quantities, they remain toxic and symptoms of ingestion may include, but are not limited to, nausea, vomiting and convulsions (all dosage dependent).

In addition to the horn poison, the project began infusing the horns with a bright colour dye, in an attempt to ward off potential poachers. Since then, there have been several high-profile cases of private game reserves and state parks injecting poison and dye into their rhinos’ horns in an attempt to deter poachers. In most instances, the reserves and parks have used signage to warn potential poachers that the rhinos’ horns have been treated.

So firstly let’s examine the issue IF the poison did work as intended, and then we’ll take a look at the results of a new study into the effectiveness of the infusion method.

Leaving aside the moral issues of poisoning people in a faraway country, there are several drawbacks to the idea. The idea relies on two assumptions: firstly, that the poachers will be deterred from killing rhinos with poisoned horns, and; secondly, that consumers will be deterred from buying rhino horn for fear that they will be poisoned.

Taking a look at the first theory, it seems that poachers simply do not care whether the rhino they are killing has a poisoned horn or not. For example, Sabi Sands (a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park) had poisoned its rhinos’ horns and widely advertised the fact. Yet that didn’t stop poachers from targeting their rhinos. Even if the poacher knows that the horn poisoned, he is likely to shoot the rhino anyway because he’ll probably still be able to sell the horns to a middleman for a large sum of money. The poacher is hardly to admit to the buyer that the horns may have been poisoned.

Those involved in the rhino horn trade are hardened criminals who slaughter rhinos; the poachers / traffickers / importers won’t bat an eyelid if they are harming someone living thousands of miles away who they have never met. You may think that a middleman would know that the horns have been poisoned or dyed, due to a change in appearance. However, in the wild, horns get scuffed and stained by soil and vegetation as rhinos wallow etc. and the dye will soon fade until it has completely disappeared.

If we look at the bigger global picture, poisoned rhino horns already exist outside Africa, but have been targeted by criminals for several years, proving that the issue of poison doesn’t matter to the syndicates. These ‘poisoned’ rhinos horns are those historical items, such as trophy mounts or antiques, sitting in museums and auction houses across the globe, which were preserved with a heavy dose of arsenic or other toxic substance. Yet this hasn’t stopped the theft of nearly 100 horns across the UK and Europe destined for Asian markets.

Even if poachers were deterred from killing rhinos with poisoned horns, this would likely deflect them to areas that hadn’t poisoned their rhinos. It is impossible to poison the horns of every single one of Africa’s rhinos. With over 25,000 rhinos to protect on the continent, there is simply neither the funding nor time to infuse them all. In addition, rhino horn grows at a rate of around 4-7cm per year. To continue the technique, a rhino’s horn would need to be re-poisoned around every four years for the substance to remain in the horn. This is not only expensive but is also a particularly invasive technique, and each time a rhino is darted there is a risk from the anaesthetic.

The second assumption is that rhino horn consumers in Asia would be deterred from using rhino horn if they knew there was a risk they would become ill. The technique effectively relies on publicity. However, the exact effect of the poison on consumers is unknown and there is little evidence of consequential illness. For all the talk of poisoned rhino horns, there doesn’t appear to have been any impact on consumer behaviour in Asia. There is little publicity of the concept in Vietnam or China.

Even if the consumers did become aware of the risk of poisoning, this could lead to a dangerous mindset of ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. The initial concept of deterrence could have the exact opposite effect. If person consumes rhino horn and nothing happens to them, they may believe that they have ‘conquered’ the poison, or that the rhino horn is so ‘magical’ that it is counteracted the poison itself, and they will continue to buy rhino horn believing in its curative properties.

A major problem is also that the uses of rhino horn are rapidly changing and Traditional Chinese Medicine is no longer the main driver. Now rhino horn is predominantly being used as a status symbol by wealthy urban businessmen; they may choose to consume the horn, but they will often display the item whole. The use of poison is going to have no impact on those buying rhino horn for ornamental use.

Frighteningly, the poisoning of horns may actually drive up the price of ‘pure’ rhino horns, which could intensify rhino poaching. Those buying rhino horn are incredibly wealthy and will buy their horns through ‘trusted’ networks. If the poisoned rhino horn rumour circulates as intended, then buyers may be willing to pay a premium to the criminals who guarantee they can source un-poisoned rhinos horns. This could then drive the overall price of rhino horn even higher.

With so many game parks and reserves considering whether to poison their horns, South African experts undertook a research study, titled ‘Are chemical horn infusions a poaching deterrent or an unnecessary deception?", based on the examination of a treated white rhino horn, as well as available literature and expert opinion. The paper was co-written by four of South Africa’s leading wildlife scientists and veterinary experts: Sam Ferreira and Danie Pienaar of SANParks Scientific Services; Dr Markus Hofmeyer of SANParks Veterinary Wildlife Services; and Dr Dave Cooper of Ezemvelo Wildlife Services. The paper, published in the journal Pachyderm in July 2014, examined the efficacy, risks, legal and ethical implications of poisoning rhino horn through chemical infusions.

The paper's conclusion? Conservationists should not use the infusion technique when dealing with the rhino poaching threat. The main reason against the poisoning of rhino horns is that the toxin, which is mixed with the dye in liquid form, does not permeate or spread throughout the high-density fibre of the rhino horn. When studying the distribution of the coloured dye, the researchers found that the dye was only found in the drilling holes and no other part of the horn. This means that the poisoning is ineffective.

Some have criticised the release of the findings, saying that we should continue use the ‘fear factor’ to dissuade rhino-horn consumers. However, the paper's co-author Ferreira warns that perpetuating the bluff is not a wise strategy ''Relying on publicity to deter poachers also relies on convincing managers that the chemical treatment of horns through infusion will secure rhinos. Poachers will benefit and managers will lose when the bluff of horn treatments fails."

With the rapidly increasing poaching crisis, it is understandable to see why game reserve owners are willing to try anything to protect their rhinos. However, the poisoning technique appears to be a ‘red herring’ and, with scarce resources, it is important that programme managers know that the technique doesn’t work, so that funds are spent where they can make the most impact.

We need to continue working to address the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, particularly Vietnam, through targeted research and behaviour change campaigns. Meanwhile instead of focusing on the individual rhino, we need to continue funding projects that will protect overall rhino populations and crack down on the criminal syndicates involved. We need to focus on the more resources for anti-poaching and rhino monitoring teams; training of the judiciary so that they understand the seriousness of wildlife crime and impose commensurate sentences; and improved law enforcement and cross-border co-operation by Interpol, national police forces and illegal trade investigators.

Click here to read more about Save the Rhino’s efforts to reduce the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam.

Sources & further reading

Earthtouch News - New study: Infusing rhino horns with poison doesn't work.

Carte Blanche TV expose on rhino horn poisoning: Part 1. Please note that this video has been removed. For information on what the programme covered, please see this article on Annamiticus' website.

Carte Blanche TV expose on rhino horn poisoning: Part 2

To read the full paper on "Chemical horn infusions: a poaching deterrent or an unnecessary deception?" please follow this link to the Rhino Resource Center's website.

Coverage of the issue prompted the return of a major donation, which had been earmarked for rhino horn infusions, to the original donor.

(27) Comments

  • Andrew
    12 May 2013, 17:58

    Aside from the ethical reasons and potential hazard to the Rhinos themselves, sadly this plan sends a message to the wrong people. It would be different if the people doing the poaching were also the people consuming the powdered horn. If that were the case then they would certainly think twice if there was a chance the horn was poisoned. The poachers won't necessarily care whether the horn is poisoned or not and neither would the middlemen doing the smuggling, certainly not the criminals running the trade. Unless a large number of people were being killed or made seriously ill in the end user countries, enough to deter people from using the powder, I would be sceptical that this would work at all. I recall a radio interview I heard a short time back with a drug pusher who was selling a type of street drug that was killing people. He had no remorse at all and was only interested in earning money. I don't see that the poachers or their employers would be any different. It would be the innocent, badly advised and non-educated who would suffer.

  • Anonymous commenter
    17 May 2013, 10:29

    With the price of rhino horn in Asia, these are hardly "uneducated" people. In fact the "poachers" are the least of trouble. They would not be doing what they do if there was no market. Their problem is one of poverty. What we need to be fighting is the middleman. And if the market dries up because people fear poisoning, then so be it. If we can't trace the horn to the market, how can the buyer trace the poison?

  • Mike Illenberg
    05 June 2013, 17:49

    Interesting and creative solution. The legality issue would make for an interesting debate to hold at an academic institution. I am curious whether or not this would fall under a peremptory norm and the concept of jus cogens, or if it would violate international human rights law as you suggest? Would nations enforce it or seek legal recourse?

    The best application of the poison is also an interesting biology discussion that should be closely examined before implementing a toxic horn strategy.

    While I like the solution overall, I imagine my own opinion would change if children in China start dying as a result of their parents use of the horn as a family treatment option.

    Public awareness of any toxic horn campaign is critical to its success. Without it the public backlash will most certainly create an international backlash.

  • Trevor Swanepoel
    04 July 2013, 09:40

    Maybe some sort of explosive divise should be inserted in the horn which would explode when dehorning. The Rhino has already by that time been slaughted, this would get rid of a few poachers and send a message to other poaches.

  • Anonymous commenter
    29 May 2014, 22:34

    Rather than having and explosive in the horn I believe it should be a non-harmful gas that knocks anyone in the vicinity unconscious and triggers an electronic signal that tells the location of the rhino and unconscious poachers to police or a rhino protection station sort of thing. Not only would this mean capturing the poachers but possibly saving the rhino by slowing down it's heart rate making it lose less blood and possibly making it possible to survive, not making a pool of brain matter and flesh.

  • Caroline Mason
    26 June 2014, 18:28

    "It was hailed as a ‘silver bullet’ to protect rhinos from the current poaching epidemic."
    Not by Rhino Rescue Project.
    "...sadly it seems that poachers simply do not care whether the rhino they are killing has a poisoned horn or not."
    What proof do you have that poachers simply don’t care (whether the rhino they are killing has a poisoned horn or not.)? RRP have a 97.5% success rate.
    "Even if poachers were deterred from killing rhinos with poisoned horns, this would likely deflect them to areas that hadn’t poisoned their rhinos."
    What reason is this for not taking a pro-active measure to stop some rhinos being poached? Has anyone ever used this rather limp argument in relation to de-horning, which we all know DOES NOT WORK AT ALL?
    "To continue the technique, a rhino’s horn would need to be re-poisoned around every four years for the substance to remain in the horn. This is not only expensive but is also a particularly invasive technique, and each time a rhino is darted there is a risk from the anaesthetic."
    De-horning needs to be done at a similar rate and shaving the horn even more frequently, both involving darting and anaesthetic. Your argument does not stand up.
    "There is little publicity of the concept in Vietnam or China."
    You are clearly not aware of the work of ENV and WildAid in Vietnam! Both these organsations are doing tremendous work and as you should know, raising awareness takes time.
    "Even if the consumers did become aware of the poisoning, this could lead to a dangerous mindset of ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’"
    What nonsense!
    "The paper, due to be published in the journal Pachyderm in July, examines the efficacy, risks, legal and ethical implications of poisoning rhino horn through chemical infusions."
    Such a shame that RRP have been given no right of reply on this biased ‘scientific’ paper.
    "When studying the distribution of the coloured dye, the researchers found that the dye was only found in the drilling holes and no other part of the horn. This means that the poisoning is ineffective."
    Seeing a permit to take a cross-section of horn is required and extremely difficult to obtain, where did this horn come from? We have only seen a photograph – are you familiar with photoshop? The photograph in question shows a red line with a white margin. Firstly the red line is bent and looks more like something drawn onto the image with a red marker pen and secondly the quality of the photograph is very poor. Hardly ‘evidence’ of horn infusions ineffectiveness. And by the way, I have seen video evidence of dye being injected and exiting through the microchip drill hole.
    "We need to focus on the more resources for anti-poaching and rhino monitoring teams; training of the judiciary so that they understand the seriousness of wildlife crime and impose commensurate sentences; and improved law enforcement and cross-border co-operation by Interpol, national police forces and illegal trade investigators." Why the focus on re-active strategies? Is it because some do not want to stop the poaching of rhino? Is it because some are banking on extinction? Horn treatment by Rhino Rescue Project is the ONLY effective pro-active strategy being done in an attempt to save the rhino. The other pro-active strategy – de-horning – does not work as you should well know.
    I find this article full of inaccuracies, biased and poorly researched. Have you contacted RRP? No.

  • Cathy Dean
    27 June 2014, 15:39

    I wonder how the above author, Caroline Mason, knows that we have not contacted the Rhino Rescue Project.

    Read here for a comment on the ineffectiveness of poisoning rhino horns by the Chair of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, Dr Mike Knight:

    "The infusion under pressure of a dye and an ectoparasiticide into the rhino horn of living rhinos has been advocated as a possible method to reduce the value of horn, demand for it, and the threat of poaching, without dehorning the animal. The ectoparasiticide is said to be a mild poison causing gastric disorders that should deter would-be consumers, while the dye acts as a visual identification for treated animals.

    "However, recently retrieved horns from poached treated animals that have been sectioned show virtually no penetration of the dye into the horn (Markus Hofmeyr, pers. comm.). This is not unexpected given the dense nature of rhino horn, suggesting that in all probability the poison does not penetrate either. Despite the failure of the dye to penetrate, this treatment continues to be sold, raising questions as to the motivation of those selling it.

    "Furthermore, as the horns of treated animals are expected to get soiled quickly after such treatment, poachers will not be able to visually tell if an animal has been treated, thus rendering them no different from normal untreated animals and thus these animals will be equally exposed to poaching unless warning that some rhinos’ horns have been poisoned has a deterrent effect.

    "However, sooner rather than later poachers will discover that the dye, and hence resumably the poison also, doesn’t penetrate the horn, and then any deterrent effect can be expected to disappear.

    "Even if the poison were somehow to act differently from the dye and penetrate through into the horn it is unlikely to deter buyers or consumers from purchasing treated horns given the small dosages consumed in either traditional Chinese medicinal uses or the new status uses in Vietnam.

    "Given the relatively high cost of the treatment and the need to repeat it, as horns keep growing, there is a significant lost opportunity cost. The large amount of money spent to date on such treatments could probably have been more profitably used for other conservation activities such as increased law enforcement, intelligence gathering and data analysis or dehorning (which shifts the cost-benefits away from the poacher).

    "Thus, in the absence of any conclusive scientific support for the method or its suggested effect on demand, it is recommended that this method be treated with extreme caution."

    Cathy Dean, Director, Save the Rhino International

  • Caroline Mason
    28 June 2014, 21:35

    No secret, I contacted them! Anything wrong there?

  • Exvar
    06 July 2014, 18:13

    How about fake rhino horn and powder? I understand a rhinos horn is made of keratine, which is found in human nails, would it be too far fetched to look out for a way to print 3d rhinos horns with a keratine based material and flood the market with "pirate" copies so that horn prices sink? I think poachers will be required to show proof of authencity and even that could be forged too by adding more made up stuff

  • Cheryl Phillips
    03 September 2014, 22:03

    No chemical analysis has been done of the poisoned horns. Until such time, it is only speculation as to whether the poison penetrates the horn or not. If it doesn't, shouldn't we rather continue researching ways of making it work? If consumers started getting ill, less people would buy it, which in turn would dry up the market for the poachers. I'm all for poisoning the current stockpile and feeding it into the market.

  • Rian
    29 October 2014, 12:16

    Dear Cathy
    Are you perhaps at least a little bit curious why your link : "Carte Blanche TV expose on rhino horn poisoning: Part 1" goes to a removed video?
    If you are interested in the real truth, let me know.

  • Cathy Dean
    29 October 2014, 16:55

    Thanks for pointing out that the video of Part 1 has been removed from the Carte Blanche website. For a summary of its content, please see this link:


    We are well aware that the Rhino Rescue Project has contested the findings of the SANParks / Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife team's paper, and look forward to receiving more information on the grounds on which it believes that the methodology works.

  • Nevada
    09 April 2015, 12:51

    I've read a lot of the comments above and I think we're all looking in the wrong direction for a solution, I'm not sure if this is possible but it's worth putting out there.

    Over the past few years more and more rhinos are being killed each year and this is due to the high demand for the the horns, supply and demand. So if the supply is low and the demand is high, prices go up, and vice versa. Now this is the part I'm unsure of. With modern technology and our ability to synthetically make almost anything, why not mass produce fake rhino horns? Obviously they would need to be very realistic. With a flood in the market of rhino horns, prices drop, and the risk is no longer greater than the reward for poachers. If these fake horns are sold directly to the black market as real horns, supply can slowly increases, leaving poachers with nothing to do but find another income.

    I don't know for sure how great of an idea this is but I thought i may as well share it and see what happens, I really hope it could be of some help

  • DDLong
    03 June 2015, 21:54

    Oh but it's a lovely dream. And there are no ethical considerations. If you purchase rhino horn, you should get what's coming to you. Too bad the harvesters cannot meet with as unhappy a fate. And while I agree if some don't die from the poison it might make them think they are immune, all it takes is a few deaths to make it worth the while. Cold blooded? Yep. But in defense of our planet we need to start getting serious.

  • Herby Sagues
    07 June 2015, 08:46

    I think you are getting this idea the wrong way. The objective of poisoning the horns is not to make them less appealing, but to disrupt and destroy the market.
    If an extremely wealthy individual buys rhino horn for hundreds or thousands of dollars and then gets sick from it, someone is going to pay. At best, the formerly successful dealer's business will take a hit, at worst the poacher will take a hit. The dealer may in turn punish their supplier and that would be all the way down to the poacher. If enough horn are poisoned, enough turmoil will occur in the distribution and sales channels to make it a problem. No one NEEDS rhino horns, so if it becomes risky and difficult to get, even if the price goes up as a consequence, fewer sales will occur. And if less sales occur, by definition fewer horns are being poached.

  • Joanne
    26 June 2015, 21:22

    Similar to the idea of flooding the market with fake rhino horns, there is a campaign #ifakeit to encourage use of faux leopard skin instead of leopard skin. This is being well adopted within a religious tribe in South Africa, which is also helping save everyone money as real leopard skin is very expensive.

  • spixleatedlifeform
    04 July 2015, 18:27

    What a luxurious way to do this.
    Aside from the already stated effects--making those who consume the horn sick as the dogs they are, it has an added bonus.
    By the color alone (pink) one can see the benefit of foiling the primary motive for the horn's consumption -- libido and potent enhancement of the wealthy yet otherwise impotent males who consume it, AND/OR those who use the horns as ceremonial knife handles for their tiny peckers' substitution.
    Pink just doesn't spell masculine, now does it?


  • Marianne Robey
    06 October 2015, 12:43

    I find the argument and the evidence in this article unbelievable, disprovable and illogical. If, as you state, there has been poisoned horn on the market for several years, has there been no evidence of poisoning by ingestion of the horn? That would indicate that the poison doesn't harm people, there is an antedote that can be added to the powdered horn, no poison has actually been injected in the first place or that the information you are using is not reliable. If enough rhino horns were injected with poison and with dye to indicate the poison, it would only be a matter of time before people start to hear of deaths from the powder and the trade will slowly drop off! That is logical. I am starting to believe, sadly, that too much is at stake in stopping the world wide appetite for animal parts for any organisation to be 100% committed to ending it. I would welcome a discussion on this point as to my mind there is plenty of corruption in the world of conservation.

  • Ninja Pants
    23 February 2016, 21:45

    Well, I think that it would be interesting if we could find an airborne poison with similar effects. That way, when the horn is severed by the poachers, it would harm THEM instead of the consumer.

    Anyone got anything to add?

  • Anonymous commenter
    14 March 2016, 19:51

    I personally believe Western countries (a UN peacekeeping force would be preferable but we all know how toothless they are) should contribute front line military personnel to the fight against ivory. We already pay for their wages, it could act as training and is far more productive than invading middle eastern countries. Surely a well trained and supplied military force with the permission of the respective country and an ability to eliminate poachers would surely deter the killing of these magnificent creatures. I am tired of the argument that poachers are victims too (of poverty), we have been saying that for the last decade and the reduction in rhino and elephant populations continues at an alarming rate. If a poacher knows he has a high chance of being wounded or killed every time he ventures out surely that will deter them.

  • Anonymous commenter
    17 April 2016, 13:12

    People who buy rhino horn are not scientifically-minded people. They are the sort of people who believe in horoscopes and the like. So why not put a bad luck curse on all rhino horns? Make them cursed items. Those who display or ingest part of a rhino horn will be plagued with bad luck for the rest of their lives.
    In fact, the great powers of magic which control all life on Earth have already done this. From this day forth, all those dealing in rhino horns will suffer bad luck for the rest of their lives, their health will suffer and their businesses will fail.
    However, those helping a rhino will be lucky and anyone saving a rhino's live will be granted health, happiness and a long life. Please pass this message on. Rhinos are sacred.

  • Ling
    18 April 2016, 03:32

    Can you make the rhino horns radioactive with certain amount of lethally radioactive materials?

  • Lorinda Hern
    19 April 2016, 16:08

    Caroline Mason was 100% correct in saying that Save The Rhino has not once made contact with Rhino Rescue Project over the past six years - despite being urged repeatedly to do so by several conservation-minded individuals (in SA and abroad). I know this because I am one of the co-founders of this project and I can state categorically that we have yet to receive a SINGLE question from Save The Rhino, which makes me wonder how it has become such an authority on the subject of horn devaluation? Further, why attempt to create the impression that this article was produced in consultation with us, when this is patently false? Lastly, how can Save The Rhino justify singling out certain anti-poaching initiatives for mean-spirited cyber bullying as evidenced in the article and subsequent comments above? Surely, discrediting horn devaluation on a public platform has served absolutely no purpose in terms of saving even ONE animal. And if that is the case, why produce such counter-productive vitriol at all?

  • Coenie Kukkuk
    30 August 2016, 17:37

    One of the best options is to try and destroy the market - a harrowing task and very difficult where you deal with centuries-old remedies and 1.4 billion people in China. But the effort to try and change the mindset must be done and done correctly and systematically, it is the only long-term solution. If it will be achieved will be a wonder, but how can we know if we do not start? A mass-media campaign of shaming those involved - "loosing face" underlies every social interaction for most Chinese people.

  • Anonymous commenter
    23 September 2016, 00:44

    I just saw this technique being used on the discovery channel. I came upon this site when googling how does the poacher know if a horn is poison or not. I am sad to hear that this method does not deter poaching or even poison as intended. I just can't understand how someone would want to harm an animal this way. Same with killing whales and shark finning. It is disgusting.

  • Michael Guy
    05 October 2016, 18:10

    A couple thoughts from reading the article and comments. First it isn't unethical. As long as everyone is told that we are doing this and you might die, if they still choose to do it, well that's just stupid and not unethical. It's like saying you might die if you jump off that building. If someone still chooses to do it then that isn't the fault of the designer or construction worker. I believe that people are allowed to shoot and kill poachers. I have more of an ethical issue with that cause they are just trying to get money and they are poor, but not so much cause they know the risks and are doing something they shouldn't. Also if the rhino horn looks ugly/discoloured (yeah, Canadian) wouldn't that reduce the trophy demand? No one wants a pink horn on display.

  • Guy
    13 October 2016, 12:25

    I think Ling (comment 18th April) is heading in the right direction. The method of poisoning in the article seems well-intentioned but ineffective.

    If shipments of horn were intercepted further down the supply chain they could be laced with something like Polonium 210, or anthrax, or anything really which will cause a lingering death to the end user.

    Once news of high numbers of fatalities starts to break, even unaffected users will spend some very uncomfortable time wondering if they'll start displaying symptoms, and perhaps think twice about the "medicine" next time.

    Obviously logistics could be tricky, as could the politics of slowly killing unknown numbers of foreign nationals. Probably something which a billionaire philanthropist would need to fund on the quiet.

    Morally speaking though, I'd be fine with it. Show of hands?

    Realistically speaking this isn't going to happen, so what to do?

    Educate those in Asia that there are no magical powers? Why should they believe us when many Westerners/Governments still condone equally backward beliefs in bearded water-walkers and other imaginary friends?

    So let's just tool up the anti-poachers with better kit, intelligence, numbers and firepower and change their rules of engagement to pro-actively attack, as they are starting to in places like the DRC. Plus come down exceptionally hard on those taking bribes from the poachers, and their families.

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