Today, in our PlantScience animal facts series, we will explore a common misconception for which an entire species had to pay the price and is on the brink of extinction – Rhinoceros.
Did you know the word rhinoceros comes from the ancient Latin & Greek words ‘rhino‘ which means nose and ‘keras‘ which means horn? #Rhinoceros means “A horn on the nose’. Poached for the prominent horn on its nose, the number of rhinos alive dwindled from about 5,00,000 at the beginning of 20th century to only 27,000 today. Most of them are protected and are in national parks or reserves.
Northern White Rhino, one of the rarest species of the rhinos, is almost extinct with only two remaining in Kenya and is protected by 24-hour armed guards in Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
It is a common misconception that the rhinoceros horn has any magical properties in it. The sad part is that this misconception about being an aphrodisiac is so widespread that many fall for it. Some even claim that traditional ancient medicinal texts from ancient times have indicated that the powdered rhino horn has properties to cure fevers, convulsions and even cure cancer. In some extreme cases, the rhino horn was also believed to remove hallucinations, reduce nightmares, and drive away demons.
So what is the reality? Though some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe in the medicinal properties, the claims are not backed by evidence. Want to know why? It is about the composition of the horn itself that refutes any possibility of a medical miracle.
Rhinoceros horns, unlike those of other horned mammals, (which have a bony core), consist only of keratin, similar to human hair and nails. Thus, any claims of this treatment using the rhino horn have been compared to consuming fingernail clippings in water. It is easy to believe in any ridiculous claims, but to back it up with science, you need to have evidence, and that is exactly where the claims of the rhino horn fail.
Who would have thought such majestic creatures would be facing extinction because of a stylish hairstyle?
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