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Are Elephant Tusks and Rhino Horns Being Dyed Pink to Stop Poachers?

Are Elephant Tusks and Rhino Horns Being Dyed Pink to Stop Poachers?

A picture of an elephant and a rhino


You may have seen some interesting photos on the Internet lately. They show elephants and rhinos with tusks and horns dyed pink in order to prevent the killing of these beautiful animals for their body parts. Is this for real? Well, the short answer is “sort of.”


A Photoshopped image of an elephant with its tusk painted pink

The images you are seeing of elephants with pink tusks and rhinos with pink horns are photoshopped and not real. But…there is an organization called Rhino Rescue Project that is taking some pretty drastic action in an attempt to save the rhino from poachers.


An image of a rhino with its horn painted pink in Photoshop


Because rhino horn is highly prized in some Asian cultures for its supposed health benefits (not true) and as a symbol of wealth and power, rhino horn is as valuable as gold and rhinos are being killed in record numbers just for their horns.

A picture of two rhinos

The Rhino Rescue Project is taking a two-pronged approach to making rhino horn as undesirable to poachers as possible. They are in fact infusing a permanent dye (the same type of dye used to stain stolen bank notes) directly into the horns of living rhinos. This dye makes the horn unusable for ornamental purposes and can also be detected on airport x-ray scanners, even if ground to a fine powder.


A close up side view photo of a rhino

Along with the dye, the other step the Rhino Rescue Project is taking is to contaminate the horns of living rhinos with ectoparasiticides (toxins used to kill parasites such as ticks).

Ectoparasiticides are safe for the animals, but will cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and convulsions in humans. Because rhino horn is made into medicine and ingested by people, contaminating the horns makes them unusable for this purpose.


A close up side view photo of an elephant with a blurred background

At this time, no elephant tusks are being dyed pink, but there is a movement to make that a reality.

Like this article? Check out this in depth look at factory farming and how it is killing the environment!


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ted - June 8, 2020

They probably kill lots of poachers but the info is not published. They say it a war for a reason. People die in wars.

Keylie Parham - November 28, 2018

Even though dying tusks through sedation and injections may be beneficial for saving these animals, has there been any studies considering adding a chemical to their food sources to change the coloration of their tusks? With that in mind, it would change the coloration of tusks for multiple elephants and rhinos at one time, rather than going injecting these animals one by one? Personally, I would like to help with a study like this, because it would speed up the process of saving these animals and less hands on work as well. I’m curious because I’m doing a project for my college about this topic, and it got me thinking about other ways that would be faster and easier, even though it may be more costly. Can anyone give me feedback or more information on this, if studies have been conducted for tusk/horn coloration changes through food sources?

JIm JOnas - August 13, 2018

How about 200 or 300 ex milatary snipers to get rid of the poachers ?

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