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Radioactive rhino horns might deter poachers in S.Africa

Rhinos in Africa are slaughtered for his or her horns that are smuggled into Asia.

South African scientists are learning methods to inject radioactive materials into rhino horns to make them simpler to detect at border posts, a transfer to discourage poaching, a researcher mentioned on Friday.

Poachers killed not less than 249 rhinos in South Africa through the first six months of the yr—83 greater than within the first half of 2020.

The animals are slaughtered for his or her horns, that are smuggled into Asia the place they’re extremely prized for conventional and medicinal purposes.

Injecting rhino horns with a small quantity of radioactive materials would possibly deter poachers by making smuggling simpler to detect, mentioned James Larkin, a nuclear researcher on the University of the Witwatersrand.

More than 11,000 radiation detectors are put in at ports and airports all over the world, he instructed a webinar hosted by the World Nuclear Association.

Border brokers typically have handheld radiation detectors that might additionally detect the contraband, he added.

“We can radically increase the army of people who are capable of intercepting these horns… to push back against the smugglers,” Larkin defined.

Two rhinos have already been injected with a non-radioactive isotope to make sure the fabric won’t journey into their our bodies or trigger well being issues for the animals or people.

Computer modelling will then assist decide what dose is acceptable for rhinos. A mannequin rhino head will probably be constructed with a 3D printer to check the doses earlier than the trial strikes to actual rhinos.

The programme, known as The Rhisotope Project, has backing from Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom, in addition to researchers within the United States and Australia.

Rhino anti-poaching research goes nuclear

© 2021 AFP

Radioactive rhino horns might deter poachers in S.Africa (2021, September 11)
retrieved 11 September 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-radioactive-rhino-horns-deter-poachers.html

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