Government of Nepal

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

National Forensic Science Laboratory

A Comparative Study of Some Morphological and Microscopic Identifying Features of Genuine Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) Horns and Fake Horns

Rhino horn is hard, elongated, conical structure composed entirely of keratin but lacking bony core. Illegaltrade of rhino  horn has high financial rewards. Both genuine and fake horns are confiscated by authorities and sent for identification. Various morphological and microscopic features of 214 genuine horns of one horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) stored at Armed Forest Protection Training Centre, Tikauli and Office of the Chitwan National Park, Kasara, Nepal were studied. The studied morphological parameters were color, surface texture, height, mass, basal circumference, frontal groove, basal elevation, porosity, light penetration capability at the base and density. Similarly, microscopic features like shape, size and frequency of filamentous units, Interfilamentous space, ratio of medulla and filamentous unit and laminae were studied after thin transverse sections made from the tip of 140 genuine horns. Some of these features were compared with that of 65 fake horns which were received in the laboratory and identified as fake samples. The distinctive filamentous units were observed in all studied genuine rhino horns with varied number, shape and sizes. Based on this study, identifying features of genuine rhino horns were properly established. The study also reveals the possibility of approximation of maturity of rhino horns.