No matter where he bought it, deer antlers are not things that you come across lying in the forest. The deer are killed and their antlers made into ornamental pieces of nonsense like knife handles and chandeliers. They are killed during the mating season because the antlers grow just so that males can fight with each other for the females, using these head growths. They fall off after the season, and the process of regrowth starts again. They take eight months to become proper antlers By killing them during this time, the hunter makes sure that no mating takes place so that the one fawn that would have been born is also lost forever, dwindling the species till it becomes endangered and has to be shifted to a zoo where the animals jostle in captivity till they die. When the deer disappear, so do all their predators as they have no food – the big cats, the hyenas, jackals etc. So the owner of a chandelier has not just killed several deer to make a wall light, he has destroyed many species forever.
Antlers are not horns, which are permanent. They are simply solid bone tissue with a branched structure. These are grown annually and their formation is triggered by two factors; the amount of daylight also known as the photoperiod, and the physiological cue that increases the production of the male hormone testosterone. The buck's eyes sense the lengthening of days, which sends a message through the optic nerve to the pineal gland. The pineal gland located in the brain produces the hormone that controls testosterone levels. As the level of testosterone increases in the spring, it marks the onset of antler production.
Male deer or bucks develop antlers just after their second year. Then they get themselves a harem of young females or does, attracting them with the size of their antlers, and when mating season comes they defend their harem with these antlers or try and steal someone else’s harem. The size and strength of their antlers is dependent on nutrition and light, not age. If they get enough green plants, berries, grains even woody vegetation, they will grow larger branches as these need calcium and phosphorus. In the early spring, antler buds appear, and if the male has antlers already, these new buds help push the old ones out, the way a new tooth supplants a primary tooth. The skin on the antlers, or velvet, protects the bone throughout the year. In autumn, as the lessening light decreases the animal's production of testosterone, the blood supply to the antlers stops, the velvet begins to dry and slough off and finally the antlers fall off.
Bucks also rub their antlers against small saplings to mark their territory. Healthy bucks sporting the largest antlers win the sparring competitions. This means they receive the privilege of mating with does. Poachers go for those bucks that have the largest antlers. Since the antler growth depends on the health of the animal, this means that the healthiest and strongest animals are being killed, leading to deterioration in the genes year after year.
Why do poachers not wait for the antlers to fall before picking them up? Because, they fall one at a time and an industry cannot wait for one person to follow one deer for days and then pick one antler up. The industry of ornamental items and fake medicines needs hundreds of antlers at one time. Secondly, by the time they are shed, they have broken in parts from the many fights that the buck has had. Third, an most important, the moment an antler is shed, the smaller creatures of the forest eat it for their calcium needs. So it is easier to kill the bucks. Who cares if the supply keeps dwindling? The aphrodisiac industry will simply target another animal and build the media mythology round them with the help of some easy- to-please doctors.
China and America are as usual the biggest villains. Look on the net. You will see crushed deer antler pills recommended to increase sexual desire and improve performance. Eight capsules a day. One advertisement even recommends it for body builders to boost stamina and maintain muscle health. The pills are as expensive as they are useless. The entire crushed antler is calcium – and nothing else. You could eat any bone and get the same thing.
China exports it all over the world even though it is an illegal product. Claims are made for it by obscure doctors in the “ Orient” that antlers give healthy livers to women. Some claim it removes arthritis, others that it heals wounds. There is no scientific evidence even in China to support any of these claims. Even the people selling it say that while it may have no “ immediate benefits” there are not many severe toxic side effects !!. However, the sellers of pills warn that, if too much deer antler is taken, upset stomachs may occur and people with circulation problems, congenital heart disease or heart pain should not take deer antler.
It is only a matter of time now before we lose all our deer. In Western countries hunting them is allowed. In China, they kill them for “medicine” – as they kill everything that moves. In India they are poached for their antlers. Even our priests are shown sitting on deerskin and this dreadful practice continues till today. I know one politician whom I would dearly like to put in jail who wears deerskin slippers which his sons poach for him. Antlers are used for ceremonies, decoration, and “medicine”. Add to that the mortality by car or train accidents, diseases and parasites, starvation, and normal predation and then add the extensive clearing of land and loss of forest. The only things that we will have to remind us that God gave these beautiful gentle graceful animals are the chandeliers.