rhinoceros parts

Durer's rhinoceros

Albrecht Durer, 1515

In the early 21st century, one of the most impressive of Earth's mammals is near extinction, a victim of the luxury goods market. As Hsu explains, the idea that its parts are an aphrodisac gets the bulk of the press, but is a small part of the demand.

Jeremy Hsu.
The Hard Truth about the Rhino Horn “Aphrodisiac” Market.
Scientific American, April 5, 2017.


Eric Dinerstein.
The Return of the Unicorns: The Natural History and Conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Probably the best way of following the extinction of the rhinoceros is through the work of TRAFFIC International. For example:



Trade in rhinoceros parts is not a new phenomenon, nor restricted to the Far East.

Rhinoceros' Horns are much esteemed among the Mahometans, on account of their being considered a powerful antidote against poison. They are in general about 12 to 15 inches long, and from 8 to 6 inches in diameter, though sometimes (rarely) 10 inches in diameter, and near 24 inches long. A good sized born, sound, and not broken at the point, is worth from three to four pounds sterling. At the base they are commonly of a brown or olive colour, though occasionally grey, and sometimes nearly white : they are nearly straight, having a very small curve, inclining upwards with a sharp point. The horns of the Rhinoceros have not that interior spongy substance contained in those of other animals, but are entirely solid : they are made into drinking-cups and snuff-boxes.

Rhinoceros' Hides are in great demand for making targets or shields; when prepared, they are proof against the stroke of a scimitar; they are of a variegated colour, and when polished, very similar to tortoise-shell. At Surat they make the most elegant targets of these hides, and stud them with silver-headed nails. These will fetch from 30 to 40 rupees each, and are much sought after, particularly in Arabia.

Wiliam Milburn.
Revised by Thomas Thornton.
Oriental Commerce, or the East India Trader's Complete Guide; …
London: Printed for Kingsbury, Parbury, and Allen, 1825.
Page 75.


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