Rhisotope Project Completes Phase One

The international project to deter rhinoceros poaching by using radioisotopes to enhance detection techniques has passed its first hurdle, Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom has announced.
 
Rhino projectRosatom said the first phase of the so-called Rhisotope Project was called a success on September 16. In that step, radioisotope material was introduced into the horns of two rhinoceros -- animals named Denver and Igor. Technicians then tested blood samples and fecal material to determine that the radioisotope was not moving into the animal's bodies.

The radioisotopes remained in the animals' horns, but did not migrate to the bodies, said Rosatom.

The project that is supported by South Africa, Australia, and the United States, aims to make it easier to detect rhinoceros horn material when it is smuggled from country to country. There are 11,000 monitors worldwide that can detect the radioisotope at airports, train stations, border crossing posts, and other strategic travel points. The hope is to make it more difficult to move illegal horn matter that poaching is effectively diminished or stopped. 

Rhinoceros horn material is sold illegally around the world for various medical purposes, all of them pure myth. African rhinoceros are endangered animals and yet close to 400 were lost last year to ruthless poachers.
 
About 9,600 rhinoceros were poached between 2010 and 2019 according to various media reports. 
 
On September 16th, the first phase of the Rhisotope Project aimed at curbing rhino poaching in South Africa using nuclear technologies – radioisotopes – was successfully completed. 
 
The initial stage of the project was dedicated to proving that there was no movement of the stable isotopes from the horn of the rhino into the body of the animal. In order to prove this, Igor and Denver, two rhinos, were darted and sedated, at which point the cocktail of stable isotopes was introduced into their horn. These two animals were isolated into a separate camp where they were closely observed. Highly trained rangers collected daily fecal as well as periodic blood samples.
 
"Today, the team is ready to move to the second phase, which will concentrate on the modeling of radiological doses. They will not only be affordable, long-lasting and detectable by existing radiation detection monitors around the world but at the same time will cause zero harm to any animal which has its horn treated as per the most stringent global best practices of radiation protection,' Rosatom said.
 
Once the study is completed, the project, which is being launched in South Africa, will be extended to the whole of Africa and other continents. Conservation organizations will be able to benefit from the training programs free of charge. The project could also be used to save other endangered species.

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