Sir Richard Branson Bites Fingernails In Campaign To Warn Against Rhino Poaching

Sir Richard Branson Bites Fingernails In Campaign To Warn Against Rhino Poaching

“Keratin. That’s all it is. No different or more a medical remedy than your fingernails,” said Branson. “So with a dwindling rhino population, why kill off one of our planet’s greatest species for no reason?”


Did you know? A rhinoceros’ horn is comprised of almost entirely of keratin, the same substance we produce in our nails and hair.

Despite that, the product is highly sought-after – especially in China and Vietnam, where it is ground up into a powder form and touted as a recreational drug, an aphrodisiac and even a cancer cure.

On the black market, one kilo of rhino horn is estimated to be traded at around $50,000 per kilo. This value is driving the current rate of hunting and it is estimated that a rhinoceros a day is killed in South Africa. 

Because its value is devastating the rhinoceros population in Africa, WildAid recently released a new ad campaign to raise awareness about the issue. Of the many celebrities who joined in on the nail-biting action is Sir Richard Branson.

Credit: WildAid

Credit: WildAid

As you can see above, the head of Virgin is urging people to boycott the purchase and sale of rhino horn by  chewing on his own fingernails.

The point of the campaign is to point out that rhinoceros’ horns may be sought out for their ‘magical’ properties, but they contain the same stuff we already have on our own bodies. Therefore, the poaching needs to stop. 

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?”

The WildAid ambassador is joining a slew of Chinese celebrities and global wildlife ambassadors speaking out about the issue. Maggie Q and Chinese actress Li Bingbing are also featured in the campaign aimed to educate consumers and persuade them not to buy, gift, or consume rhino horn, reports Ecorazzi.

Credit: WildAid

Credit: WildAid

Credit: WildAid

Credit: WildAid

In China, the ads are already on display in the Beijing Capital International Airport as well as on a huge billboard in Chonqing’s Central Square. The campaign is also featured in the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Said Dr. Patrick Bergin, African Wildlife Foundation CEO:

“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. 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.”

Thankfully, activist efforts to raise awareness about the unnecessary poaching of rhinos is slowly contributing to change in China. According to surveys conducted by an independent research firm, the percentage of those who believe that rhino horn has medicinal effects have dropped by nearly a quarter, from 58% in 2012 to 45% in 2014.

Not only that, about 50% of the Chinese public knows that rhinos are killed for their horns, leading to a 52% increase in awareness since 2012.

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