Wildlife trade is any sale or exchange of wild animal and plant resources by people. It can involve live animals and plants or a diverse range of products that may be traded for food, fuel, fodder, building materials, clothing and ornaments, sport, healthcare, religion and collections or pets. The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth up to US$20 billion per annum with rhino horn and ivory fuelling the terrorist coffers in a number of African conflict zones.
Rhinoceros horns and other products are important constituents in traditional Chinese medicines and ornamental use dating back to at least 2000 B.C. Contrary to popular myth, rhinoceros horn has never been used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac. Until recently rhinoceros horn was in high demand in the Middle East, especially Yemen, for the production of dagger handles or jambiyas. The recent upsurge in rhinoceros poaching is closely linked to increased demand for rhinoceros horn in Asia, particularly Viet Nam, where it carries prestige as a luxury item, as a post-partying cleanser, and as a purported cancer cure.
The image below shows the main trafficking routes for rhinoceros horn.