Receive email updates about EIA straight to your inbox.Sign up now
EIA on Facebook
The trouble with using synthetic rhino horn to stop poaching
In 2014, one rhino was killed every eight hours. That was in South Africa alone, where most of the world’s rhinos live. At this rate, rhino deaths may overtake births by 2016-2018, making the concept of the rhino’s extinction very real.
Spurred by this grim prospect, governments, businesses and governmental organizations have discussed a wide range of solutions to stop rhino poaching, the key driver of rhino mortality.
One proposal that recently generated a lot of interest is the manufacturing of synthetic rhino horn. The concept first reached the media limelight in 2012 when the company Rhinoceros Horn LLC launched a crowdfunding campaign to get the idea off the ground. While that campaign failed, the idea has recently been rekindled by Pembient, a US-based company that describes itself as “the De Beers of synthetic wildlife products."
This bioengineering start-up plans to flood the market with synthetic 3D-printed rhino horns. The company hopes this will help save rhinos by making synthetic horns cheaper to purchase than the real thing.
Pembient is looking to develop synthetic rhino horns that not only are genetically similar but feel and smell like the real thing, so much so that consumers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. To achieve this, the company has recently embarked on a crowdfunding effort to sequence the genome of the black rhino. Pembient hopes the first synthetic horns will hit the market about a year from now.
The question, though, remains: will it work? An examination of both consumer motivations and business models behind these types of ventures exposes some pitfalls.
The best available consumer research tells us that demand for rhino horn stems largely from the social status this perceived luxury product gives to its users, tied to the (erroneous) beliefs of its medical properties. How would synthetic rhino horn fit into this picture?
In terms of its luxury status, it is the rarity and high price of rhino horn that give it its allure. As such, it is unlikely that current consumers will turn to cheaper and commonly available options no matter how indistinguishable they may be to a lay audience, much the same way that the availability and lower price of cubic zirconia has not led to a crash of the diamond trade ...
It is clear that conservation is much in need of entrepreneurship and people willing to think outside of the box – just the kind of thinking that the people behind efforts to make synthetic rhino horn have demonstrated. Yet, the context around the trade in rhino horn is very complex and simple solutions that sound too good to be true often are.
Read the full story at theconversation.com/the-trouble-with-using-synthetic-rhino-horn-to-stop-poaching-43759
#rhinos #3dprinting #poaching
Image: An Vietnamese official checks rhino horns seized in a smuggling case (c) dantri.com.vn ... See MoreSee Less
8 hours ago ·
South Africa's Blood Lions are being bred for the bullet ...
"Every single day in South Africa at least two to three captive bred or tame lions are being killed in canned hunts. And hundreds more are slaughtered annually for the lion bone trade.
"The Blood Lions story is a compelling call to action to have these practices stopped."
Check out and share this teaser trailer for the new documentary Blood Lions, a film which seeks to blow the lid off all the claims made by the predator breeding and canned hunting industries.
Learn more about the campaign at www.bloodlions.org/ & www.facebook.com/BloodLionsOfficial
#lions #SouthAfrica #hunting #cannedhunting ... See MoreSee Less
11 hours ago ·
'The answer to future energy needs is blowing in the wind'
EIA co-Founder & Director Jennifer Lonsdale blogs on our strategic partnership with green energy supplier Ecotricity ...
"Green electricity didn’t exist in the world back in 1996. When Ecotricity offered it for the first time, it became not just Britain’s but the world’s first green electricity company, kick-starting the now-global green energy generation industry.
"Ecotricity’s mission has always been to change the way electricity is generated and used in Britain, challenging the non-renewable energy generators and the business models of the Big Six suppliers.
"I switched my energy supplier to Ecotricity when EIA first became a partner several years ago, particularly encouraged that EIA would receive a donation as a result and that by switching I would be supporting the development of renewable energy generation ...
"If we are to tackle the threat of climate change and degradation of our environment, we have to work together to end the dependence on ‘ancient sunshine’ fossil fuel industries (coal, gas, oil) and implement strategies that focus on safe, renewable and sustainable energy, transport and food production ..."
If you would like to switch your energy supplier to Ecotricity, EIA could receive up to £60. Call free on 0800 302 302 (quoting EIA1) or visit www.ecotricity.co.uk/eia.
Read Jennifer's blog in full at eia-international.org/the-answer-to-future-energy-needs-is-blowing-in-the-wind
#climate #renewables #wind
Image: Wind turbine at Swaffham, Norfolk (c) Ecotricity ... See MoreSee Less
11 hours ago ·