Photo & Cartoon
Extinction of Rhino Driven by Superstition
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Rescue mission - Sedated black rhino (seriously endangered species) on his way to a safer habitat.
WWF (World Wildlife Fund) reports that the plight of rhinos in South Africa is worsening as this endangered species is illegally captured and killed in greater numbers to fulfill the Chinese traditional belief that its ground horn is a panacea for many health problems. WWF, together with other project partners has established a haven for more than a 100 black rhinos in Limpopo Province.
In a new airlift procedure that causes less stress on the animal, one more rhino has been saved from extinction.
It's not just rhinos that face this threat. Throughout Asia, the penises, claws and bones of various animals — including tigers, rhinos, and bears — are sold in folk medicine shops to cure everything from arthritis to asthma, impotence to cancer. Some people believe that tiger bones and claws can cure a variety of maladies, including back pain, arthritis and fatigue.
In July, officials along the border between Russia and China intercepted a truck carrying more than 1,000 bear claws and 26 elk lips — weighing 143 pounds in total — that were destined for medicine shops across Asia. The bears and elk were most likely left to bleed to death after their paws and lips were sliced off by the poachers, Benjamin Radford, Life's Little Mysteries Contributor reported.
Shark populations have also declined dramatically in recent years, due in part to the demand for shark fins, eaten as a delicacy and used in Chinese medicine. The live, but finless, sharks are often thrown back into the ocean to die.
There is no scientific evidence that any of these animal body parts treat or cure any disease or medical problem, but old beliefs die hard. The threat to Earth's biodiversity doesn't just come from pollution and human demand for food, and the extinction of the rhino reveals a dark side to belief in alternative medicines.
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