We're the founders of Pembient, a start-up that's bioengineering rhinoceros horn to help fight poaching.
Update (5 PM EST)
Thank you Reddit community for asking so many good questions! I see there are a bunch I still haven't replied to yet. I'll try to get on later and answer the remaining ones if I have time. I haven't used Reddit very much in the past, but the quality of the questions and the civility in the forums is just awesome. Thanks all for participating!
Hello Reddit! We are Matthew Markus and George Bonaci, the co-founders of Pembient. We have backgrounds in genetics and biochemistry and we are extremely concerned about the ongoing poaching crisis facing rhinos.
Did you know that 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa last year? That's almost 4% of the wild population! Furthermore, the number of rhinos poached has been increasing every year since 2008.
Rhino horn is in demand in East Asia where it is used as a traditional medicine and status symbol. Because the supply of rhinos is so small and the demand so great, rhino horn currently sells for tens of thousands of dollars. We believe the single greatest driver of the poaching and corruption threatening the rhinos is this high price.
In order to attack the price of rhino horns, we've decided to fabricate them in a lab. Our horns are practically indistinguishable from wild horns. By creating an unlimited supply of horns at one-eighth of the current market price, there should be far less incentive for poachers to risk their lives or government officials to accept bribes.
Finally, we believe that animals are precious and traditions are important. Therefore, we don't think one should be pitted against the other if there is a possibility that both can peacefully co-exist.
If you would like to help us, we're currently running a crowdfunding campaign to sequence the black rhino genome:
Experiment.com is matching donations for the next 24 hours, so now is an ideal time to donate! All data from this project will be released into the public domain.