Black Rhinoceros horn material sells for $65,000 per kilo. The rhinos are rare, which helps up the price, but the horn is also prized "as a fever-reducer, a cosmetic, an aphrodisiac, a hangover care. And so people highly value it in the Vietnamese and Chinese cultures. So we are trying to reduce that value by increasing the supply," says Jennifer Kaehms of Pembient
, a company that's working to make artificial rhino horns that are not only chemically indistinguishable from the natural variety, but are 3-D printed to look the same. The idea is that if they can flood the market with human-made rhino horns, it will cut poaching -- which is a big deal because there are only about 5,000 black rhinos left in the whole world.
They have a crowdfunding appeal on experiment.com
looking for help in sequencing the black rhino genome. At this writing, it has two days to run and has only raised $12,831 of its $16,500 goal. The results will be open sourced, and once the black rhino is on its way to salvation, they plan to work on the white rhino, then move on to killing the black market for ivory and tiger pelts, which don't sell for as much as rhino horns but are valuable enough to keep an international horde of poachers in business.