Vietnam craves rhino; costs more than cocaine4th April 2012
Nguyen Huong Giang loves to party but loathes hangovers, so she ends her whiskey benders by tossing back shots of rhino horn ground with water on a special ceramic plate. Her father gave her the 10-centimetre brown horn as a gift, claiming it cures everything from headaches to cancer. Vietnam has become so obsessed with the fingernail-like substance it now sells for more than cocaine.
"I don't know how much it costs," said Giang , 24, after showing off the horn in her high-rise apartment overlooking the capital, Hanoi. "I only know it's expensive."
Experts say Vietnam's surging demand is threatening to wipe out the world's remaining rhinoceros populations, which recovered from the brink of extinction after the 1970s thanks to conservation campaigns. Illegal killings in Africa hit the highest recorded level in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year.
This week South Africa called for renewed cooperation with Vietnam after a "shocking number" of rhinos have already been reported dead this year.
China has long valued rhino horn for its purported - though unproven -medicinal properties, but US officials and international wildlife experts now say Vietnam's recent intense craving, blamed partly on a widespread rumour that rhino horn cures cancer, is putting unprecedented pressure on the world's estimated 28,000 remaining animals, mainly in South Africa.
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"There are now reported to be three rhino attacked every day in South Africa," says DSWF ,CEO Melanie Shepherd. "This vile slaughter is unsustainable and completely unfounded. You can help us continue to protect the rhinos in our care in Namibia, South Africa and India by supporting our rhino appeal."
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