During the BBC World Service Inquiry program, four experts gathered to discuss possible ways to address the serious issue of rhino horn poaching. Damian Vergnaud of the Inverdoon Game Reserve in South Africa suggested to use 3D-printing technology in creating replacement horns for the endangered rhinos. The process begins by taking a photo of the rhino, then a mold shaped like its horn will be 3D-printed. With this, the existing horn is cut off, and the 3D-printed mold is filled with a fast drying liquid plastic aluminum. Once set and removed, the replacement horn will look and feel like an actual rhino horn. This is truly a race against time since many rhino species have recently been declared extinct – and the number of wild rhinos is rapidly decreasing globally due to poaching.
The whole concept revolves around reducing the value of rhino horns, which are believed to have healing properties in many cultures. Vergnaud’s team previously injected dyes into the horn, but this method was ultimately ineffective in stopping poachers. In order for this new plan to work, it must be very clear to the poachers that the existing horns are fake and have no value.