Richard Branson Bites Fingernails to Save Rhino Horns
With rhino poaching at an all-time high, Sir Richard Branson is speaking out against the sale of rhino horn — by chewing on his own fingernails.
Why fingernails? Because rhino horn and fingernails are made of the same protein, keratin.
Yes, the big commodity that is killing off African rhinos can be found right at your very own fingertips, or at the top of your head (hair is made from keratin, too).
Throughout China and Vietnam, the demand for rhino horn is high. There, the horn is ground up into a powder form and touted as a recreational drug, an aphrodisiac and even a cancer cure.
“Keratin. That’s all it is. No different or more a medical remedy than your fingernails,” WildAid ambassador Branson said of rhino horn. “So with a dwindling rhino population, why kill off one of our planet’s greatest species for no reason?”
That’s why the the Virgin head is joining a slew of Chinese celebrities and global wildlife ambassadors, including Maggie Q and Chinese actress, Li Bingbing, in a new campaign aimed educate consumers and persuade them not to buy, gift or consume rhino horn.
In China, the campaign ads are already on display in Beijing Capital International Airport as well as a huge billboard in Chonqing’s Central Square, as well as around the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
“Rhino horn won’t cure cancer or a headache, but the rhino poaching epidemic in Africa does have a cure, and it involves people not buying rhino horn,” said Dr. Patrick Bergin, African Wildlife Foundation CEO. “Sir Richard and other campaign celebrities are delivering the message, and now we need citizens in China and Vietnam to be part of the solution.”
WildAid says change is slowly happening in China. According to surveys conducted by an independent research firm, the percentage of those who believe that rhino horn has medicinal effects has dropped by nearly a quarter, from 58% percent in 2012 to 45% percent in 2014. In addition, about half of the Chinese public knows that rhinos are killed for their horns, a 52% percent increase in awareness since 2012.