The Atlantic

The Rich Men Who Drink Rhino Horns

Vietnam’s illicit rhino-horn trade is rooted in traditional medicine, but a new class of ambitious young businessmen are using it for something more than health.
Source: Getty

As I turned down Lãn Ông street, two things struck me. The first was how quiet it is compared to the rest of Hanoi’s Old Quarter: The flow of motorbikes is less incessant, the lights a notch dimmer. The second was the smell: somewhat musty, sometimes sweet, and unmistakably herbal.

I was on Vietnam’s “traditional medicine street.” Shophouses all along the row were stacked with herbs and medicines. Dark-colored ointments filled glass bottles. Red ginseng and artichoke tea was packed in cardboard boxes. Plastic bags were stuffed with monk fruit, lotus seeds, and strips of bark. But I had come in search of something a bit more elusive: rhino horn.

Although banned in Vietnam, rhino horn is still available for purchase—if you know how to find it. The Southeast Asian nation is the largest consumer of rhino horns in the world, and the illicit trade is so strong that it’s fueling a poaching crisis in South Africa

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