The British government has formally asked China, Vietnam and other Asian countries to tell their citizens that rhino horn has no medicinal value to try to save the rhino from extinction. The belief that the horn holds medicinal value is deeply grained within Asian culture, as I discovered years ago in Taiwan.
About 20 years ago, I was on a delegation to Taiwan and one of my areas of discussion was environmental protection. On the flight over to Taipei, our government sanctioned the Taiwan government for the sale of endangered species body parts in medicines and products. When I arrived, that is all the President and ministers wanted to discuss. They were quite angry and insisted that you could not buy such things as tiger bone on the island.
After days of denials, I decided to investigate the matter myself. I left the meeting early and got into a cab. The Justice minister had just denied that such products were openly sold in Taiwan so I asked the cab driver where I could buy tiger bone. He immediately said “Snake alley.” He offered to drive me that night and I accepted. After driving through the city that night, we walked me down a narrow alley with underaged girl prostitutes on either side behind thin curtains. It was horrible with some girls who looked as young as ten. We then emerged in Snake alley — so named because people often came to drink snake blood as an aphrodisiac. I watched as one large snake was killed and drained into a pint cup and given to a young man. The snake’s beating heart was placed on the table in front of him. He paid a wad of money and drank the blood and was served a snake soup. In addition to open sex acts on display, there was a wide array of endangered species body parts for sale from dozens of open tables. I bought a few and took them to the meeting the next day. I explain that it took me literally minutes to find a place to buy these. The minister looked shocked and then had an interesting response. Instead of again denying the availability of such products, he said that the Chinese culture is ancient and that he can personally attest that these ancient remedies work.
Rhino horn is also believed to combat cancer and is now more expensive than gold or cocaine — fueling the slaughter of the animals. Even museums have been broken into to get at the horns.
The problem (as discussed above) is that many Chinese officials harbor these notions of special healing qualities from such products. Yet, Britain is clearly correct that only an educational campaign by these countries will stem the slaughter.
8 thoughts on “Britain Calls On Asian Governments To Move Against Sale of Rhino Horn”
Franklin’s solution sounds good, if applicable. Another solution to increase the supply would be to set some production plants, the problem being not consumption but irresponsible harvest.
Which makes me realize the minister’s response was completely off-topic. Whether the practice is old or not, whether it works or not, is completely irrelevant to the debate. Species are disappearing, people are killed trying to protect them, that’s the problem.
“After driving through the city that night, we walked me down a narrow alley with underaged girl prostitutes on either side behind thin curtains. It was horrible with some girls who looked as young as ten. We then emerged in Snake alley — so named because people often came to drink snake blood as an aphrodisiac. I watched as one large snake was killed and drained into a pint cup and given to a young man. The snake’s beating heart was placed on the table in front of him. He paid a wad of money and drank the blood and was served a snake soup. In addition to open sex acts on display, there was a wide array of endangered species body parts for sale from dozens of open tables.”
“To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity. ”
— Maximilien Robespierre
Sometimes a little Jacobin justice is more than desirable it’s warranted.
I’d suggest that that’s only a truism in places where the society doesn’t value an educated populace. Education is a cure to many of the world’s woes. We’re a species capable of rerouting our instincts. Superstition is based on the same pattern seeking drive as my wife’s work in a lab at a research hospital.
Good luck to Britain, but the folklore will over power the science.
And to think the Pharmacology folks want to save the Rain Forrest….Very humanitarian……until…you understand that they have over 5k medicines that the only necessary ingredient can be found is in the Rain Forrest….
Prepare to harvest the lower horn …
There are a lot of endangered species that might benefit from a wholesale counterfeit dump.
I think you would be wasting your time trying to convince people their magic beans (or invisible sky wizard) do not work. It would take generations and even then there will be hold outs.
The actual solution is to infiltrate the market. Sell phony products in quantities large enough to cause a drop in the wholesale prices. That would remove the incentive to take the animals in the first place while the placebo affect goes on unabated.
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