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Britons might do so much coke that it's infiltrated our water supply, but Vietnam has an appetite for rhino horn so severe that its endangering the species – 2014 is set to be the deadliest year yet for the rhino. According to the South African government, 558 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in 2014, due to an ever increasing demand for crushed keratin, the substance from which rhino horns are made.
The number of rhinos being poached has risen again in 2014, meaning that since 2007 the number has jumped each year. One reason for the constant growth in killings is the demand for keratin in South East Asia, particularly Vietnam, where ownership of the horn powder is seen as a symbol of affluence and luxury. The Vietnamese have fuelled the incredible increase in rhino slaughter due to their belief that snorting it can get you high, or cure hangovers and illness. For those of you who think that cocaine doesn't last long enough, remember that snorting rhino horn does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and costs roughly three times the price per gram.
A survey conducted in late 2013, by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC revealed that "rhino horn consumers are wealthy and powerful and as such are seen as influential people within Vietnamese society. Typical users of rhino horn are successful, well-educated men, over the age of 40 who live in Vietnam’s main urban centres. They value their luxury lifestyle, which is often based around meeting peer group pressures and tend to view animals as commodities to serve functional and income-generating purposes rather than feeling an emotional connection."
South Africa is home to three quarters of the world's entire rhino population, but by next year will be into the negative in terms of more rhino deaths than births, all owing to keratin's undeserved status as a party drug.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot