Monday, 10 October 2016

Synthetic rhino horn ready 'in two years'

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, Johannesburg
5 October 2016

The man behind attempts to develop synthetic rhino horn has told the BBC that he hopes to have a "bio-identical" product ready to market in two years.

Matthew Markus, CEO of Pembient, believes that introducing a highly similar but manufactured horn could help stem the rhino-poaching crisis.

Here at the Cites meeting the plans have been condemned by conservationists as "too risky".
Campaigners want the species body to ban synthetics from endangered animals. 

Rhino start-up
Over the years, the development of human-made alternatives to some natural species has seen some success. 

Orchids produced in the laboratory have served as an alternative for collectors while a synthesised version of the chemical that's found in bear bile has been accepted in traditional Chinese medicine. 

Now, a number of start-ups are seeking to develop alternatives for rhino horn and elephant ivory. 

The most advanced is said to be a company called Pembient who believe they are very close to producing solid, horn-like material.

"Earlier this year, we produced low fidelity prototypes, they are solids but they don't have all the properties of rhino horn and we are working now to produce these high quality bio-identical solids," CEO Matthew Markus told BBC News at the Cites meeting.

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