Poachers are only after the ivory horns right? I read this story from the New York Times ( I think) of saving a Rhinocerous by some Park Rangers and a Vet. ( forgive spelling) ; they tranquilized the Rhino and took its horn off so it wouldn't be killed. I know Rhinos need their horns so maybe a hard plastic 'prosthesis' could be put in its place. Maybe the 'prosthesis' could be colored yellow or have some markings on it so any poacher would know it's fake. Of course this could all be done for the elephant too.

Could this be a feasible way to save Elephants or Rhinos??

  • $\begingroup$ YOU mean their tusks right? And the Rhino horns can be so replaced also. But the non-valuable replacements would have to be marked or visibly different from 'regular' horns or tusks. $\endgroup$
    – user128932
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is really answerable one way or the other. Poachers may not look carefully enough to see what they are aiming at, or worse, the yellow horn might attract more predators. Failing that anyone's actually studied this issue, the answers are just going to be a matter of opinion. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ Rhinos and elephants don't really suffer badly from predation, there's not much that will try to take one down, so the colour wouldn't matter that much - the main issues are poaching and habitat loss. $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 9:31

1 Answer 1


Dehorning of rhinos has been tried with limited success. Poachers have killed dehorned rhinos anyway, either out of spite or to avoid tracking worthless prey in the future. There is the problem of anesthesia (always a risk) and the fact that rhino horns are usually not destroyed but saved in the event of decriminalization. But at least horn grows back.

Considering the strength of horn and ivory, and the force applied in their use, plastic would not be of much use to them (especially elephants with long tusks).

They are used for digging for water, salt, and roots; debarking or marking trees; and for moving trees and branches when clearing a path. When fighting, they are used to attack and defend, and to protect the trunk. - Wikipedia

To detusk elephants would be akin to declawing a lion, though much more dangerous and painful. Though this might help prevent poaching, the future of these animals lies in prevention.

  • $\begingroup$ So is doing nothing an option? You admit de-horning might prevent poaching , using ANESTHESIA to remove tusks.If not then to remove a tusk why not use a harmless dye to make it look ugly and not marketable. $\endgroup$
    – user128932
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ If de-horning is painful of course forget about it , but dying the horn is still an option. Forgive my impudence , I just get tired of most of my suggestions being shot down. $\endgroup$
    – user128932
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ I apologize again. How was I belligerent , I just capitalized the word anesthesia; and people have talked about removing tusks for a while and I never heard about the ineffectiveness of anethesia so I just thought I was being talked down to again. $\endgroup$
    – user128932
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:31
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    $\begingroup$ @user128932 - none of the biological dyes that I can think of would penetrate the outer layer of horn, sorry. Eventually they would wear off as well, I think, from friction. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 4:20
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    $\begingroup$ You can't inject rhino horn. You might be able to drill into it, but that might damage the pulp or open it to infection, and there's always the risk of anesthesia. But it's good to see someone working on a way to save rhinos. Keep thinking 'outside the box'! :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 4:37

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