It's great to take our minds off rhino horn being used in traditional Asian medicines, and focus for a moment on the beauty, charisma and grace which the mighty rhino horn lends to the rhino species. In this video two rhino have a short show of power, butting their horns together similar to a graceful sword fight. It always amazes to see such giant animals appear so nimble on their feet! (Some statistics say that the black rhino is faster than the worlds best sprinters!)
This video was taken at Kariega Game Reserve South Africa some years ago, however subsequent poaching incidents have led Kariega to the decision to dehorn rhino on the reserve for safety reasons. The procedure is not painful for the animal, and it is done with the utmost care and respect. For more information on the procedure please visit Save the Rhino page. Sadly dehorning a rhino is no guarantee that it will not be poached. Safe and proper dehorning only removes the part of the horn not attached to the skin and face (a similar concept to trimming nails and hair), however a large portion of the horn remains very much attached. Although not as valuable it can still be a target for poachers.
Additionally because the horn grows back, the proper dehorning needs to be repeated ideally once a year to minimize threat of poaching, and unfortunately this becomes very costly for private game parks.
There are of course the drawbacks to the rhino themselves. Territorial or power-related disputes such as those shown in the video are the most common use rhino's have for their horns and depending on the species of rhino, the horn can also be used as a mechanism of self-defence or even for foraging for roots. However we are back-handedly thankful that while dehorning may affect certain aspects of the animal's life, it does not it any way threaten their survival. At Kariega Game Reserve South Africa, while we feel that dehorning is very far from the ideal long-term solution, it seems to be one of the only things we can do that may serve to protect them from poachers.