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What’s behind the title of our film?
The title of our documentary “The Price” refers to the exorbitant price currently being placed on rhino horn in international black markets, making it, ounce for ounce, worth far more than its weight in gold and one of the most expensive illegal substances in the world today. Our title refers also to the incalculable price humanity faces as we fail to honor the human-animal relationship. As we abuse both animals raised for food in industrial countries (causing innumerable human diseases and untold animal suffering) and animals in the wild (leading to massive biodiversity loss) human well-being declines right alongside that of all other creatures, in both tangible and intangible ways. From the loss of honey bees which affect 91% of the world food supply due to our indiscriminate use of the pesticide clothianidin, to the massive loss of world bird life from habitat destruction, to the mass depletion and pollution of our oceans and waterways, to the murder for profit of the last of our great megafauna, humanity has yet to fully understand the true cost of our current disregard for the ancient ecosystems and well-being of all other species that also call this planet home.
It is possible to look upon the critically endangered rhino as a symbol of all that is wrong with humanity’s current self-destructive attitude towards the human-animal relationship.
While many are aware of the plight of the polar bear from global warming, the decimation of the elephant for its ivory, and the collapse of the world’s fisheries from over consumption, few are aware that species like the rhino and the beloved tiger are literally being devoured by a wealthy few who believe these creatures hold the secret to long life and vitality. Human selfishness and greed, not tradition, are leading directly to the tiger and rhino’s disappearance along with a parade of other exotic creatures. Due directly to human consumption (though not for food or clothing), the five species of the world’s remaining rhinos currently make up the most endangered large animal group on the planet, with animals like tigers and turtles following closely behind.
– Javan Rhino – approximately 40 individuals remain in existence
* (Javan Rhino Vietnamese Subspecies – declared extinct October, 2011)
– Sumatran Rhino – approximately 230 remain
– Indian Rhino – approximately 2,900
– Black Rhino – approximately 4,800
* (Western Black Subspecies declared extinct, 2012)
– White Rhino, Southern Subspecies – approximately 20,000 brought back from 200 individuals
* (White Rhino, Northern Subspecies – 7 individuals remain alive)
Please visit savingrhinos.org for a more comprehensive overview of the world rhino situation.
Why are rhinos endangered?
Due directly to poaching for use by a wealthy few in high-end traditional Chinese medicine as a vitality booster and as a status symbol gift and “hang over cure” in countries like Vietnam, the once widespread rhino now teeters on the brink of extinction. It is a myth that rhino horn is used as a sexual supplement or that it was ever traditionally used as a cancer treatment in traditional Chinese culture. Rhino horn, while present in traditional Chinese medicine, was never seen as more than a mid-level drug, used to cool heat in such situations as fevers, rashes, and demon possession. Three international studies have proven that rhino horn holds no medicine properties for humans and at very best reduces fever in mice for no more than a few minutes when given in doses equivalent to 100 x that of a human dose. Horn is no longer being used in this traditional way – as it is now far too expensive and there are far better medicines for rashes and fevers. Instead it is being used by the wealthy as “the elixir of life” – not a traditional use. Rhino horn does not cure cancer, it does not boost the immune system, and it does not grant long life. Rhino horn is made up of little more than Keratin, Calcium, and Melatonin, the same substances found in human hair and nails, and all substances easily procured elsewhere. It is myth, ego, and greed currently driving the demand for rhino horn, not tradition and not human well-being.
Please visit our “Learn More” page to get the full facts and find links to scientific studies, poaching and criminal issues, and other relevant articles.
Who is involved in this film?
Directed by Melinda MacInnis and Matt Fife, edited by Tina Imahara (Fuel and The Big Fix), and shot by Emmy-winning cinematographer John Mans (Whale Wars and National Geographic’s Great Migrations), The Price examines the precarious fate facing the last pockets of remaining rhinos in Africa and Asia, and exposes the devastating effect that local poachers and international crime syndicates are having on these populations and on other species as they rush to supply a growing illegal demand for critically endangered animal parts for use by the wealthy in countries like China and Vietnam and in large cities around the world.
The Price follows the efforts of UNEP Global 500 Environmental Laureate Terence (Ted) Reilly, who has spent over 50 years working to revive and protect Africa’s black and white rhinos (as well as over 20 other species of fauna that had gone locally-extinct in his native Swaziland), and the work of Back to Africa, a group dedicated to helping critically endangered species recover in the wild. The film includes interviews by some of the world’s leading experts in conservation and animal protection, including Dr. Alan Rabinowitz of Panthera, Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, CEO Patrick Bergin of the African Wildlife Foundation, and Crawford Allen, North American Director of TRAFFIC.
As Africa and Asian face yet another onslaught of the bloody and senseless Rhino Wars, with sophisticated criminals armed with cell phones, AK-47s, helicopters, animal tranquilizers and night vision goggles, Reilly and his team of dedicated rangers – along with other protection groups across the world – risk their lives on a daily basis to protect their country’s natural heritage from disappearing forever.
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