11 May 2018

East Africa: On the Trail of Asia's Shifting Rhino-Horn Market

analysis

As long as consumers want rhino horn, South Africa will lose its rhinos to the slow, agonising blows of the poacher's hacksaw. In this extensive investigation, undercover Swiss filmmaker Karl Ammann finds that black market sentiments have shifted from health to wealth -- and that this might be exacting a demand that is bigger than the 1,000-plus rhino poached in South Africa each year.

A groundswell of economists and conservationists have written reports dealing with the demand-and-supply characteristics of the trade in rhino horn. Although the picture of supply, and how this chain works, seems clear, the demand side is a lot less certain, as well as how the end-consumer drives it.

My research with South African filmmaker Phil Hattingh for The Hanoi Connection, our feature-length 2018 documentary on the driving forces behind the rhino massacre, kicked off about six years ago by scouting for products in traditional Chinese/ Vietnamese medicine shops in Vietnam. To secure the acceptance we needed, we established ourselves as customers over several trips to Hanoi, the capital, by buying samples of powdered rhino...

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