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Elle Macpherson a voice for rhino conservation?

Supermodel Elle Macpherson put her foot in the rhino dung about a comment she made to a newspaper journalist earlier this year. “Works for me,” is what she was reported by The Times about eating rhino horn. Here’s the relevant excerpt: Witter: You’re said to be a great fan of Chinese medicine. What does powdered rhino horn...

Supermodel Elle Macpherson put her foot in the rhino dung about a comment she made to a newspaper journalist earlier this year. “Works for me,” is what she was reported by The Times about eating rhino horn.

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

Witter: You’re said to be a great fan of Chinese medicine. What does powdered rhino horn taste like?

E MacP: A little bit like crushed bone and fungus in a capsule. Does the job though.

Witter: How do you know that it works? A lot of people say Chinese medicine is quackery.

E MacP: Put it this way, works for me.

That lit up the social graph. The truth is there is no medicinal or any other value in eating rhino horn. The only thing that can be achieved by consuming rhino horn is to fuel the war on the pachyderm, which is being hunted into oblivion for its horn. (South Africa battles to save rhinos from high-tech poachers.)

Macpherson later told news.com.au that she had “never knowingly consumed or encouraged the use or consumption of any products which contain material derived from endangered species.” (Elle Macpherson regrets rhino remedy ‘banter’)

She said she regretted “any distress or offence that her banter with an interviewer might have caused.”

Although she had great respect for Chinese medicine, she was “fundamentally opposed to any activity which is detrimental to the protection of endangered animals,” she said.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said that it was so shocked by the supermodel’s comments that it had prepared an information package to send to her to educate her on the plight of the rhino and the use of alternative traditional medicines.

“Elle has been a successful businesswoman with a high public profile for decades and people do listen to what she says,” IFAW spokeswoman Erica Martin told news.com.au.

There will be people who will always wonder if Macpherson really does eat rhino or not. A quip like that is not only in bad taste, but can cause the deaths of more rhinos. It can cause more people to be ripped off of their hard-earned money buying expensive “medicine” that is in fact useless. It can deprive African and Asian countries of animals that are important to their tourism industries.

Perhaps the best way Elle Macpherson can make amends for any lingering doubts she has created about the rejuvenating powers of rhino horn is to become an activist, advocating against the poaching of rhinos and helping people everywhere understand that rhino horns have absolutely no value to anyone or anything other than the rhinos themselves.

Posted by David Braun

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Meet the Author

David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn