Source: Barron’s 

South African scientists have injected radioactive material into live rhino horns to deter poaching in a groundbreaking initiative. The project, led by James Larkin from the University of the Witwatersrand, aims to make the horns detectable at border posts and poisonous for human consumption. The procedure, performed at Limpopo rhino orphanage, involves placing tiny radioactive chips in the horns, which will activate global radiation detectors installed at ports and airports.

Despite increased government efforts, rhino poaching in South Africa rose by 11% in 2023, with 499 rhinos killed. The pilot Rhisotope project includes 20 rhinos and aims to make the horns detectable for five years, a cost-effective alternative to frequent dehorning. The rhinos do not experience pain from the procedure, and the radiation level is safe for their health and the environment. This innovative approach may finally provide an effective deterrent against poaching driven by demand for rhino horns in Asia.

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