The Russian Atomic Energy Agency has played a key role in an innovative international project that is working to curb the illegal trade in African rhino horns by using radioisotopes to make them easily traceable.
Between 2010 and 2019, more than 9,600 rhinos were killed due to poachers’ continuous search for rhino horns. The price of rhino horns was higher than that of gold and platinum on the black market. Although there is no scientific evidence that keratin is effective for any disease, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine are listed as the culprit behind the demand. As the number of rhinos continues to decrease, some Asian buyers seek to improve their position, which has also stimulated the market.
A disturbing prediction suggests that in the next nine years, rhinos may be on the brink of extinction in South Africa-South Africa is the habitat of approximately 90% of the world’s population.
In order to reverse this trend, the Rhisotope project was launched in May of this year. Its name is derived from the words “rhino” and “isotope”. It actually involves radioactive materials and is based on the idea that rhino horns are not attractive and dangerous to poachers and their purchasers. Will prevent them from hunting endangered species.
The project was initiated by Witz University in South Africa and has become a major international cooperation project with the Russian National Atomic Energy Corporation, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO), Colorado State University and South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa).
The project did not really harm those who touched the corner, but aimed to make illegal trade extremely traceable. Rhino horns will be marked with a safe amount of radioactive material so that the approximately 10,000 radiation scanners installed in airports, railway stations and ports around the world in recent years can detect them.
It is hoped that poachers will lose interest in this commodity because its transportation has become too complicated and dangerous. However, in the eyes of potential buyers, the presence of radioisotopes will also reduce the value of the angle.
In the first phase of the project, stable non-radioactive isotopes have been injected into the horns of two South African rhinos. Scientists will monitor these animals until the end of summer to ensure that foreign substances will not cause any harm to them.
If the procedure proves to be safe, supercomputers and 3D modeling will be used to determine the correct radioisotope and the precise quantity required to label the rhino correctly.
Without Rosatom, the project would not be successful because the agency will provide isotopes for rhino horn injection in the final stage.The Russian Atomic Energy Agency is proud to play a key role in the initiative to save these atomic bombs “Fantastic Animals” According to Ryan Collier, head of Rosatom’s Central Africa and South Africa branch.
“We believe that science, especially nuclear science, will play an important role in protecting our entire planet, not just rhinos,” He added.
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