A Silicon Valley startup is making a big claim that if it comes true could be a solution for a grim problem that Critter Files has been documenting for a long time.
Poaching of rhinos for their horns, which are still prized as traditional medicine and status symbol has led to the critters’ decline.
But perhaps rhino horns created in a lab would satisfy the disgusting desire to own and consume rhino horns?
That’s what Pembient, a biotech startup developing products that are genetically and spectrographically similar to rhino horn, hopes will happen.
Pembient intends to introduce these products into the market as alternatives to rhino horn procured from the wild, according to Matthew Markus, the CEO of the company.
“We surveyed users of rhino horn and found that 45% of them would accept using rhino horn made from a lab. In comparison, only 15% said they would use water buffalo horn, the official substitute for rhino horn.
It’s an interesting concept using 3D printing to make genetically identical rhino horns in a lab.
Most importantly, it wouldn’t harm actual live rhinos like Sudan, the world’s last living male northern white rhino or this poor rhino who had his horn hacked off by poachers.
It would be amazing if Pembient succeeds as poaching shows no sign of declining. In fact, poaching has increased over 90-fold since 2007, a trend linked to rising standards of living in Asia where most of the customers are based, according to the company.
The hope is that Pembient’s rhino horn provides an outlet for consumers in the same way faux fur has in the past.
Pembient plans on unveiling its first product at IndieBio’s demo day in early June. Limited quantities will be for sale shortly thereafter. A portion of all sales will go toward the protection and management of wild rhinos.