Paperbacks: Rhinoceros, by Kelly Enright

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The Independent Culture

The latest addition to Reaktion's splendid "Animal" series concerns a beast that was confused with the unicorn, libelled by Pliny (he called it "plotting, conniving and underhanded") and praised by Ernest Hemingway ("the hell of an animal") though only as a trophy. The use of its horn ("a few kilos of keratin") for medicine and carving almost brought the creature to extinction.

Enright reveals that the horn is not used to treat impotency in Chinese medicine but "just about everything else". Though the Indian rhinoceros is "one of the greatest success stories" (there are now 2,500) in conservation, numbers elsewhere are "astonishingly low".

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