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Rhino Horn: Instant Status Maker

Even as the illicit rhino horn market gets more and more negative press, it’s not stopping status-seeking Vietnamese from consuming the horn’s powder. In a recent piece in Times Live, a New Zealand-based newspaper, Schalk Mouton interviewed users of the horn and found little remorse, even with the knowledge that an endangered animal was slaughtered for it.

The article focuses on Mr. L, a wealthy businessman. His rhino horn is one of his most prized possessions, giving him instant credibility in his community. Intelligent and educated, he knows that the rhino horn he grinds up for dinner guests is illegal. Since authorities rarely arrest or convict rhino horn users, he’s willing to take the risk. He also knows how the horn has made its way to his dinner table:

"He knows that a rhino has been killed for the horn he now possesses. But that doesn't matter. It is an animal in a forest in a far-off country. When they show him pictures of a rhino, slaughtered in South Africa for its horn, he shrugs his shoulders."

Due to his position in the community, he’s setting an example for how to display wealth:

"Mr L's subordinates at work aspire to be in his shoes one day, and that means getting hold of rhino horn. They make up the 16% of the population that has not used rhino horn, but want to. Their problem is the $60,000 per kilogram price tag."

Head over to Times Live to learn more about the rates of rhino horn use in Vietnam and how the World Wildlife Foundation is addressing the trade.

[Times Live // Photo via Brent Stirton]

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