Vietnam has been identified as one of the major recipients of rhino horn from South Africa.
Most rhino horn entering Vietnam is sourced from South Africa. Rhino horn is obtained for consumption (quasi-) legally via trophy hunts, and illegally from rhino horn dealers operating in South Africa.
Not only is the demand for rhino horn as a curative widespread in urban areas of Vietnam, but rhino horn and special tools for grinding rhino horn are offered for sale in shops and online.
Preliminary research conducted by wildlife trade investigators suggests that political figures in Vietnam could be involved in the acquisition – and consumption – of rhino horn..
Rhino horn for sale in Vietnam
In addition to the traditional myths surrounding the healing properties of rhino horn, the Vietnamese have propagated the recent rumor that rhino horn is a cure for cancer. (Updated August 6th, 2011: Some Chinese medicine websites have been offering rhino horn mixtures for the treatment of cancer. This suggests that the “cancer rumor” is likely a planned marketing ploy. Updated January 26th, 2012: “Cancer rumor” linked to China’s Longhui Pharmaceutical Company.) This unfortunate notion has been compounded by hospital staff who have supposedly offered rhino horn to terminally ill patients.
Rhino horn is sold in Vietnam through various retail outlets, such as traditional medicine stores. It is also fairly easy to locate rhino horn for sale online in Vietnam.
The photo below is part of an advertisement for “rhino horn” on a Vietnamese website:
Some Vietnamese businesses sell special tools for preparing rhino horn, along with their regular wares.
It is disturbing to note that investigators claimed in 2009 that rhinoceros skin and blood are offered as well.
Some accounts suggest that rhino horn is sold whole or in “cuts weighing between 90g to 500g”. The horn is mixed with water after being ground into a powder and consumed as a liquid.
Imitation rhino horn
The demand for rhino horn is so great in Vietnam that certain outlets are said to be selling imitation rhino horn made from cows or buffalo.
On the Vietnamese market, some sources report that a “freshly cut” rhino horn commands a retail price of USD $25,000 – $40,000 per kg. Imitation horns supposedly fetch a substantial price of USD $15,000 per kg.
Contrary to popular belief, the manufacture and sale of “fake” rhinoceros horns does not flood the market and drive prices down. Instead, imitation horns keep the trade invigorated and the demand high. Next page >>