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Vietnam craves rhino horn, costs more than cocaine

  • In this photo taken on 13 March 2012, African rhinoceroses are seen at Bao Son Paradise Park, a private zoo in Hanoi, Vietnam, which has 24-hour security to protect against potential poachers. Wildlife conservationists warn that Vietnam?s surging demand for rhino horn, which is believed to treat everything from hangovers to cancer, is threatening to wipe out the world?s remaining rhino populations. Illegal killings in Africa hit a record high in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year. (AP Pho

HANOI, Vietnam: Nguyen Huong Giang loves to party but loathes hangovers, so she ends her whiskey benders by tossing back shots of rhino horn ground with water on a special ceramic plate.

Her father gave her the 4-inch (10-centimeter) brown horn as a gift, claiming it cures everything from headaches to cancer. Vietnam has become so obsessed with the fingernail-like substance that it now sells for more than cocaine.

Experts say Vietnam's surging demand is threatening to wipe out the world's remaining rhinoceros populations, which recovered from the brink of extinction after the 1970s thanks to conservation campaigns.

Illegal killings in Africa hit the highest recorded level in 2011 and are expected to worsen this year.

 
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