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Improving Conservation Outcomes: Understanding Scientific, Historical and Cultural Dimensions of the Illicit Trade in Rhinoceros Horn

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This article aims to illuminate the pervasive allure of the rhinoceros to better comprehend the historical and cultural drivers for the illicit global trade in its most coveted part: rhinoceros horn. The market for rhino horn remains dominated by customary and cultural purposes, most notably in traditional medicine. Developing conservation strategies and responding to the criminological implications of the market requires cross-cultural understanding, drawing upon multidisciplinary sources from evolutionary biology, species ecology, cultural anthropology, biomedicine, biomaterial engineering as well as ancient and modern history. Analysis will be carried out in three parts: (1) a synopsis of evolution and ecology; (2) an examination of the cultural significance of the rhinoceros as informed by historical and contemporary sources; and (3) an investigation into the morphology and established uses of rhinoceros horn. This analysis demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to developing optimal conservation strategies addressing the multifaceted problem of illicit trade in wildlife.
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Keywords: Rhinoceros; history; illicit trade; rhino horn; traditional medicine; wildlife conservation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2018

This article was made available online on January 4, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Improving Conservation Outcomes: Understanding Scientific, Historical and Cultural Dimensions of the Illicit Trade in Rhinoceros Horn".

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2018) of 0.800. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.918.
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