Should we allow rhinoceros to be killed only for their horns?

by 1530518 on September 12, 2016 - 8:25pm

            In Karin Brulliard’s article, “Rhinos are having their horns hacked off for art. The U.S. confiscated them and burned them at a zoo” published in the National Post, she informs us that a bonfire in San Diego Zoo safari was made by the U.S Fish and Wildlife service, an agency whose mission is to conserve and protect wildlife, in order to draw people’s attention on the fact that experts are saying Rhinos could become extinct in 15 years. With only 5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos remaining in the wild in Africa how can we expect the specie to survive if we let illegal hunter slaughter them only for their horns.  In the fire created by the agency they destroyed whole horns, ornaments and products advertised as medical worth up to 1$ million dollars to make a point.   Fish and Wildlife claimed that rhino’s horns are in demand because they are believed to be keys to remedies such as cancer treatment and hangover cure. They have also been known for the high status they bring, one of success and wealth.


            However, according to Yufang Gao, a doctoral student in anthropology at Yale University, that is not the true cause, at least not in his native China.  After doing research on the subject, he found out that the market is interested in the art and antiques not as a status of wealth and success but as an investment piece.  To stop the illegal hunting of the species he believes that the problem should be analyzed differently.  He states that most of the conservation communication programs only focus on the medicinal value of rhino horn when it should also give importance to the art and antique market as a separate trade and by targeting people who buy rhinoceroses horns because of their collectible and investment values. Their healing power comes from an ancient belief that their horns were used to treat fevers, heart disease and other disease when they were roaming in ancient China.  Even though the belief hasn’t died, it isn’t the main cause of poaching in China.  Instead, rhino horns in China are viewed as excellent investments because of their intrinsic values rooted in the rarity of their material. 


           The Westerners view of the rhino horn is not the same as the Chinese one.  According to Gao’s research, he found out that Seventy-five percent of the Chinese articles reported on rhino horn’s investment value, and just 29 percent reported on its medicinal value, while 84 percent of Western articles mentioned its medicinal value, and only 6 percent its investment value.  This shows why Westerns are more focused on the healing power the horns may have, whilst Chinese are more focused on their investment value.  In China, they see rhino horns as something to preserve as a collectible or to give as a present, whilst in the western world it is seen as an object with healing abilities. Because the belief that rhino’s horn’s contain curative power is deeply rooted in the culture making hard for people to stop hunting rhinos.


            The conflict of values presented in this subject is the animals right and the greater good.  On one side, there is the rhinoceros right to live, as mentioned earlier. And on the other, there is the belief that rhino’s horns could bring some huge changes in medicine.  If it was true, than it would bring something for the greater good of the human race.  It would give us the opportunity to maybe find new medicine for disease such as cancer, heart disease, ones that we can cure right now.  It could revolutionize the medical industry. Also, rhino’s horns are a big part in the Chinese industry.  For them, it represents a high value that makes the economy roll even more.


            Knowing that both values are important, I strongly believe that rhinoceros should stop being hunted only for their horns. Even though they have a lot of value in the eyes of many for their healing powers, this theory has yet to be proven right, and even if it were true, it is against animals right to kill a specie that is already endangered. According to the endangered species act of 1973 high fines and penalties are being given for such crimes.  Rhinoceros are already classified as an endangered species, so how can we still be killing them for our own selfish belief?  Because of our action, we are going to be the cause of their extinction. Who are we to decide their fate?   If we let people killing rhinoceros only for their horns, what kind of society does that makes us? 


Work cited

Brulliard, B. K. (September 10, 2016). Rhinos are having their horns hacked off for art. The U.S.

confiscated them and burned them at a zoo.  Retrieved from http:/



You wrote a very interesting post. Even though I think that you summarize too much of the article, the two opposite views are very detailed. You can maybe add more in the last paragraph about your own position of the issue and less in the summarizing part. I agree with you that people should stop hunting rhinoceros for their horns because it is against animal rights to harm and kill endangered species. I can also add one moral principle: Animals should not be used as a mean to an end. I don't think that people should endanger an animal to boost their reputation or to use them to make medicine when they are already in the peak of extinction. Yes, their horns may be useful to further medical researches but animal rights and their freedom should also be considered because every life has inherent value. Therefore, I agree with your position on this ethical issue. A question just came to mind: Should we kill animals to save human lives?

Your post presents a lot of information, and I think you described your article very well. It is an interesting topic, as you brought many new reasons behind the poaching of rhinos. However, do you believe that they should not be killed only because they are endangered? If they were not, do you think then it would be okay to hunt them for medical reasons? Personally, I believe all life has equal value, as sanctity of life cannot apply to certain individuals of our choosing. It is not our right to choose between a being's life or death. In this case, shouldn't animals be entitled to the same basic rights as humans? Yes, curing illnesses could be seen as acting for the greater good, but sacrificing a species for another is not worth it. There are other ways to find cures, and, with all the money donated to research, the merciless killing of an innocent animal is ridiculous and unfounded. Especially since there is no tangible proof to show that rhinos' horns actually have a pertinent impact on the research. This said, could animal medical testing be considered as horrible as the cosmetics industry's testing?

The two sides of the argument seem to be to try to decide whether rhinos are an endangered species because their horns are in demand for their medical use in Asia, or because they are in demand because they are a solid investment in Asia. Either way it seems like their extinction is because of the demand for ivory in Asia.
It is probably true that the demand for it is high because they believe that rubbing it and grating it like a hard cheese, then drinking the powder with water will help prolong life of people living with cancer. Just think of how highly ancient Chinese natural remedies are respected in the western world. Acupuncture for instance. Who are we to say its not true or wrong. Does chemotherapy work better?
But at the same time it may be a real status symbol to own a big fat chunk of rhino tusk made of ivory. For them maybe it’s like owning a bar of gold. Maybe real successful businessmen have ivory in their homes, like marble or granite floors or counters over here!
Either way, the solution to the problem cannot be burning the stock for the world to see. Why can’t they farm rhinos like cattle, it would be better than poachers leaving dead rhino bodies to rot?