By Marc Lallanilla
In the struggle to prevent illegal poaching of endangered African rhinos, wildlife managers believe they've found a new weapon: poison.
So far this year, more than 200 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa alone, according to the Guardian, and conservationists fear that number will climb to about 1,000 before the end of this year.
And it isn't the rhinos themselves that are valuable — it's their horns, Inquisitr.com reports. Though the horns are made of keratin (the same substance found in fingernails), they're valued by some Asian cultures as an aphrodisiac and as medicine. [Black Market Horns: Images from a Rhino Bust\.
To stem the slaughter, wildlife managers have started to tranquilize rhinos in places like the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, located adjacent to South Africa's Kruger National Park.
Once the animals are tranquilized, a hole is drilled into their horns; the hole is then filled with a combination of pink dye and a parasiticide (parasite poison) that's used to control ticks on horses and cattle.
"It'll make [people] very ill — nausea, stomach ache, diarrhea — it won't kill them," Andrew Parker, chief executive of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association, told the Guardian. "It will be very visible, so it would take a very stupid consumer to consume this." More....