The Javan rhinoceros was recently hunted out of existence in Vietnam, according to The Washington Post.Rhino horns are highly desired contraband, especially in Vietnam where it is rumoured to cure cancer.
The prized horns sell for $50,000 per pound on the black market.
There’s even been a rash of rhino horn robberies from museums across Europe by people anxious to get their hands on the horns at any cost.
The Vietnamese pay more than $20 for a gram of crushed rhino horn to be used in traditional medicines
Rhino horn became an even more popular commodity after rumours leaked that a high-ranking Vietnamese official was cured of terminal cancer after consuming rhino horn.
Christy Williams, coordinator of WWF's Asian Elephant and Rhino Program told The Washington Post:
Global demand has also increased in the last four to five years as some people have begun to consider rhino horn a remedy for cancer.
A small amount of ground-up rhino horn powder can sell for hundreds of dollars, or $50,000 per pound on the black market
South Africa is the primary location for rhino poaching and more than 300 rhinos were poached in the country in 2010 — an increase of three times since the previous year.
Legalizing the rhino horn trade is something that South Africa is currently considering in an attempt to place the demand for rhino horns in the hands of authorities.
But not everyone is convinced legalizing it will solve the problem.
'We understand the need to come up with new ways of combating the rhino horn trade but we are against the notion that legalising it is the answer,' Morne du Plessis, of WWF in South Africa, told the BBC.
'How can we control legal rhino horn trade when we can't even control illegal trade. There are too many unknowns for us to even start thinking in that direction.'
Another problem may be the murky lines between legal and illegal: it's actually legal to keep rhino horn as a souvenir, but illegal to trade it.
South Africa is home to 93% of the continent's rhino population and arrested 165 people in connection to rhino crimes this past year
The number of ivory goods — made from rhino horns — sold in southern China has doubled since 2004 and most of them are traded illegally
Several European museums with taxidermy collections were targeted by thieves seeking rhino horns this summer.
In one case in France, thieves broke into a museum and dragged a rhinoceros head that was more than 200 years old and weighed 220 pounds across the floor as they were escaping.
Police suspect that an Irish gang was behind the robberies.
The black and white rhinos are actually merely shades of grey, but the differences between the two has a lot to do with diet, not their skin colours.
White rhinos are grazers and sometimes called square-lipped rhinos whereas black ones are browsers and eat low acacia branches.
The black rhinos are smaller than the white ones, but also more quarrelsome.
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