By Joe DeCapua
One of the biggest markets for illegally poached rhino horns is Vietnam. Now, a new study profiles the consumers driving that demand and how they view the horns as symbols of status and power.
It’s easy to grasp just how big the demand is. In the first half of this year, hundreds of rhinos have been killed in South Africa alone.
“South Africa is home to about 75 percent of the world’s rhinos. And since 2008, has been experiencing quite a dramatic increase in the poaching of rhinos for their horns -- up from less than 20 a year to 668 in 2012 and already 635 in 2013,” said Dr. Jo Shaw, rhino coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund South Africa.
She said that demand for rhino horns existed long before the huge spike in trafficking to Vietnam and China.
“Earlier demand for horn for dagger handles in the Yemen had a very serious, negative impact on rhino populations throughout eastern and central Africa through the 60s and 70s. But since about 1994, rhino numbers have been increasing. The populations have been growing again. So I think everyone was hit a little bit by surprise by this new wave in the poaching epidemic.” More....