Rhino populations have been poached and destroyed by the demand for rhino horn. Rhino horn is considered to be a strong yang medicine in Chinese medicine. What better way to disrupt the rhino horn market than to flood the market with indistinguishable cheap fakes? That’s the idea behind a new innovation project at Oxford University.
This fake rhino horn uses the tail hair of a close-up horse of the rhino. Horse hair is a good candidate because it is well known that rhino horn is not a horn at all, but a tightly stacked hair, and the sebum gland secretions of rhino horn make the hair hard. Similarly, the scientists combined tight horse hair beams with recycled silk-based fillers, and the final product was strikingly similar in appearance, feel and characteristictos to real rhino horn.
Spectroscopic and thermal analysis confirms that this product can provide a chemical similar to that of real rhino horn. Crucially, the material can be easily molded into imitation rhino horn, and its structure will remain like rhino horn after cutting or polishing. At the same time, instead of applying for a patent, the developers left it to others to further develop the technology, hoping to eventually confuse the rhino horn trade, drive down prices and thus support rhino protection.