The marketplace management of illegal elixirs: illicit consumption of rhino horn
Truong, Van Dao
Dang, Nam V.H.
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This article examines the consumption of illegally traded rhino horn. We conducted a survey on 608 males in Vietnam, a country that is identified as among the world's largest recipients of illicit rhino horn. We find that supposed health benefits, such as body detoxification and hangover treatment, were the most common reasons for rhino horn usage. Consumers also used rhino horn to display economic wealth, acquire social status, and initiate business and political relationships. We illuminate the shift in the perceived place of rhino horn from functional to symbolic: rhino horn is not only supposed to possess curative properties but through its circulation within social and professional networks is also considered part of the consumers' search for a sense of "self," a sense of "us," and the delineation of the "other." We discuss implications for strategies that serve to reduce or prevent further loss of the rhinoceros.