Photo: Na Son Nguyen/AP
Rhino horn, taken for medicinal purposes in Asian countries including Vietnam and China, can cost up to $55,000 per kilogram, making it more expensive than cocaine and as valuable as gold, the AP reports.In fact, “wildlife advocates say that over the last decade, rhino horn has become a must-have luxury item for some Vietnamese nouveau riche, alongside Gucci bags and expensive Maybach cars,” according to the AP.
But the horn, which is crushed into a powder, is actually made up of keratin, the same substance you’ll find in human fingernails.
Though China and Vietnam are both driving the rhino horn trade, the AP reports that Vietnam is driving the increase in poaching, which could lead to the extinction of the world’s rhino populations.
Poachers—many of whom are located in South Africa—are so desperate for the horns that some have resorted to stealing them from museums. A zoo manager in Hanoi told the AP that he worries about the safety of the white rhinos exhibited there.
In 2010, the last Javan rhino was killed in Vietnam, found dead in a park with nothing but its horn missing.
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