Rhino Horn Sales Reach Unprecedented High in China Despite Ban

To keep up with demand, rhinoceros poaching increased 8,000 percent over a decade.

July 19, 2017 11:34 am
A mother rhinoceros in calf, photographed in Lewa, Kenya. (Getty Images)
A mother rhinoceros in calf, photographed in Lewa, Kenya. (Getty Images)

Ivory trade scrutiny has drawn attention away from the poaching of another African species.

Rhinoceroses are being poached with at a devastating rate for their horns and end up flooding the black market in China, a new investigation from a conservation group has found.

Rhinoceros horns were displayed in Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department Offices on November 15, 2011. Hong Kong Customs on November 14, 2011, seized 33 unmanifested rhinoceros horns, 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets, worth about 17.4 million HKD (2.23 Million USD), inside a container shipped to Hong Kong from Cape Town, South Africa. (Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the last four years, more than a thousand rhinos were killed in South Africa, which is home to 80 percent of the world’s rhinoceros population. According to National Geographic, poaching of the horned creatures in the country has increased 8,000 percent compared to levels in 2007.

Vietnam has long been suspected as the largest black market for rhino horn, but a new report from Elephant Action League (EAL) discovered China to be the primary recipient of the illicit trade.

Fueled by the Vietnamese and Chinese military and border officials corruption, China is estimated to be responsible for half the black market, where the horns are purchased to be used in traditional medicine or carved into sculpture.

According to the EAL report, whole rhino horns sold for $26,500 and $40,000 per kilogram. While the quantity of ivory entering China is greater, the demand for rhino horn is higher. In fact, the horns yield about 40 times more profit for traders than ivory.

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