Elle Macpherson Backtracks From Endangered Rhino Horn Treatment

Animal rights activists decry model's behavior

By Greg Wilson
|  Wednesday, Jul 7, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 AM CDT
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Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson is sashaying backwards from her admission that she uses a concoction made from the horn of endangered rhinos, saying it was just "banter."

The 47-year-old runway queen, nicknamed "The Body," told the UK's Sunday Times via Twitter the taboo treatment "does the job" of preserving her stunning looks.

The potion, made from crushed rhino horn powder, tastes "a little bit like crushed bone and fungus in a capsule. Does the job though," she said. "Put it this way, works for me."

It doesn't work for animal rights activists, though, who believe poaching endangered rhinos, especially for such a dubious purpose, is the height of supermodel selfishness.

"The Humane Society International condemns the poaching of rhinos, particularly for their use in beauty products," spokeswoman Nicola Beynon told the Toronto Sun. "Ms. Macpherson's actions are reprehensible."

Rhinos have long been killed just for their horns, which are made of keratin, the protein that forms hair and fingernails. The white rhino, which includes two species, is the most sought after, and there are only believed to be about 15,000 still living in the wild. Animal rights activists say poachers typically tranquilize the animals, saw off the horns and leave them to bleed to death. The formula can cost up to $60,000 per kilo.

No rhino species have been legally traded since 1977, and poaching is illegal by international law.

"There is no excuse for using any endangered animal products. First and foremost, selling rhino products is illegal and in breach of CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species]," International Fund for Animal Welfare spokeswoman Erica Martin told Sky News. "Secondly, four out of five species of rhino are literally on the brink of extinction. Elle has been a successful businesswoman with a high public profile for decades, and people do listen to what she says."

After getting condemned by critter-loving critics, Macpherson told Aussie media outlet news.com.au that she regretted "any distress or offence that her banter with an interviewer might have caused.

"[I have] never knowingly consumed or encouraged the use or consumption of any products which contain material derived from endangered species," she added.

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