Professional businessmen, celebrities, and government officials in Vietnam buy and use rhino horn to strengthen their social status, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA) said on Tuesday.
These upper-middle class individuals operated in tight social networks with relationships based on prestige and honour, WWF-SA rhino co-ordinator Dr Jo Shaw told reporters in Cape Town.
"They are the most important people in their own lives. Masculinity is a very strong aspect of who they are," she said.
"There is an important element of social pressure. If everyone in your group has it and you don't, it is hard to keep up."
The findings form part of WWF-SA funded research in Vietnam between November 2012 and March this year, in which 720 people were surveyed in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The research was commissioned by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and was assisted by the marketing research company, IPSOS.
Earlier, a Vietnamese delegation came to South Africa on a rhino preservation safari.
Shaw said understanding who the consumers of rhino horn were was key in the fight against rhino poaching. More....