What steps have been taken to prevent treated horns being accidentally ingested?

The fact that the rhinos on a reserve are treated is widely publicised by means of 200+ signposts around the reserve’s perimeter (see image) and, should a treated rhino be killed, the indelible dye should be immediately visible inside the horn (especially in the channel where it was inserted) – a clear indication that the horn had been tampered with. We are constantly experimenting with new visual marking systems, and have most recently had excellent results with a mixture of colorants that fluoresce under UV light, as well as containing indestructible DNA markers that bind permanently to the horn material. Thus a treated horn, even when ground to a fine powder, cannot be passed through many security checkpoints unnoticed. Airport security checkpoints, especially, are almost certain to pick up the presence of a treated rhino horn.  This contamination should also discourage the ornamental use of horns, or horns bought a status symbols.

We also strongly suggest involving staff and local communities in the horn treatment process to assist as their involvement ensures that word about the treatment spreads rapidly via the “bush telegraph”.

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