Stopping Poachers With Poison and Pink Dye

Jill Harness

While efforts are continually made to stop poachers of endangered species, the reality is that many of these hunters are desperate people. They can make a fortune if they get their hands on an animal with a high value on the black market. A more effective approach might be to curtail the demand for these rare animal parts, but unfortunately, that hasn't been as easy as it sounds.

The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Krugersdorp (South Africa) has taken a new approach to putting an end to the demand for rhino horns. The park started applying a parasite poison to protect their rhinos from bugs—and the treatment has had some unintended effects that should make horn smuggling and use a little more difficult.

Anyone who obtains a rhino horn from the reserve has to deal with a substance that causes serious headaches and convulsions when used as a medical remedy. According to Tim Wall at, "The mixture also contains a dye that makes the horns glow neon pink in an airport scanner, even when ground into powder."

[Image courtesy of Topato's Flickr stream.]