Information provided by: Stichting SPOTS
Across South Africa, many rhinos, elephants and lions are being poached for their horns, ivory and bones, to measure up to the huge demand for these body parts from Asia, which are used in the traditional medicine industry.
Across Asia, it is still widely believed that these body parts have healing powers that cure and prevent diseases. However, these body parts have never been scientifically proven to have any beneficial medical effects. Despite this, these beliefs and the use of these body parts are deeply rooted in the Asian culture, and the extreme demand is driving these animals to extinction. Worldwide attention for this problem is, therefore, crucial.
Collecting nails to draw attention to the problem
Marjo Hoedemaker from the Hoedemaker Elephant foundation, and Simone Eckhardt from Stichting SPOTS, are both from the Netherlands and thought of a remarkable project to draw people’s attention to the problem. They have asked people to collect and send them their nails.
Our nails consist primarily from the protein keratin – the very same protein that makes up the horn from rhinos. Keratin has no proven health benefits, but the traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine claims otherwise, effectively driving these animals to extinction. To highlight the absurdity of the slaughter of rhinos, elephants and lions for medicine that has no proven health benefits, the nail project was developed. By now, several kilos of nails have been collected, sent by thousands of worried people in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The rhino is the flagship species of the campaign, but at the same time we want to highlight that both the elephants and the lions are in the same boat. These three species all suffer greatly from the large demand in body parts. Without action, they could all be extinct in a few decades.
Presentation of the nails during CITES
The end of September marks the start of the 17th CITES conference in Johannesburg. During this conference, more than 180 countries will discuss agreements regarding international trade in threatened animal and plant species. Marjo and Simone will hand over the nail collection during this conference to the CITES delegations of China, Vietnam and South Africa.
China and Vietnam are the biggest consumers of the body parts of these animals. By presenting them with these nails, they want to express their worries, as well highlight to both China and Vietnam that immediate action is required to tackle the use of these body parts, by educating the people about their false beliefs of medical benefits from horn, ivory and bones. It’s crucial that the attendants of the convention convince their government that this irresponsible trade is posing an extreme threat to these already vulnerable species.