Demand for rhinoceros horns spiked in the 1970s and 1980s because of their use in traditional Asian medicines and their status as a symbol of wealth, and conservationists have since fought to protect the animals.
(“Iliana Magra and Lynsey Chutel, A Detective Pursued Rhino Poachers. Now He’s Dead,” NYTimes, 3-20-20)
The Times article includes a link to “African Rhinos,” wwf.panda.org, which says the following about the use of rhino horn in Asia, and particularly Vietnam:
Powdered horn is used in traditional Asian medicine as a supposed cure for a range of illnesses – from hangovers to fevers and even cancer… But the current surge has been primarily driven by demand for horn in Vietnam. As well as its use in medicine, rhino horn is bought and consumed purely as a symbol of wealth.
The American “war” on drugs has demonstrated the futility of focusing on source and not demand. It’s hard to see how the rhino is not as good as extinct already unless cultures that use its horn for medicine and ostentation replace it with something less precious.
(c) 2020 JMN